The National Museum Visual Arts Collection


The National Museum, in pursuance of its mandate of preserving and protecting National Cultural Treasures and important cultural properties of the nation, maintains a reference collection on the visual arts through the Arts Division. This entire art collection constitutes a large portion of the artistic patrimony of the nation and one of our legacies to the coming generations. Now totaling 1,032, the collection is composed of easel paintings, sculptures, icons, sketches and mixed media, and span the 18th century to the late 21st century. All are inventoried, accounted for and certified by the Commission on Audit. However, there are artworks in the collection that are still undergoing accession proceedings. The Division undertakes and supervises the periodic inspection and maintenance under the supervision of an art conservator. The visual art collection of the National Museum serves as a perpetual chronicle of the development of Philippine art and a showcase of the achievements and aspirations of Filipino visual artists. One can also refer to the collection for topics ranging from Philippine history and natural landscapes to social concerns and personal expressions. The 15 artworks featured in this handbook were chosen as a representative sample of the best artworks created by unknown artists of the 18th century, 19th century masters, national artists for the visual arts as well as the leading contemporary painters and sculptors. The uniqueness of the style, the prestige of the artist, and the significance of the artwork in the development of Philippine art are the primary criteria in the selection.

Timeline of Philippine Art

18th Century

Earliest among the collection are religious in themes and composed of 18th century icons and images created by local artisans under the tutelage of the friars. The devotional pieces of the collection are of outstanding significance.
Coronation of the Virgin

19th Century

During the late Spanish colonial period, the school of Academism or “salon” painting emerged and produced the likes of Juan N. Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, who are now considered as 19th century masters.
Mother’s Revenge
Governor Dasmariñas


In the succeeding American period, Fernando C. Amorsolo, who was later declared as the First National Artist, rose into fame and established his own style or “school” which was largely characterized by countryside scenery with golden sunlight.
La Descencion de Jesus


The period is represented by the proliferation of genre themes, landscapes and still lifes as well as the emergence of pre-modernism.
Bust of Mons. G. Aglipay

1930s: Pre-modernism

Artists represented in the collection: Victorio Edades, Diosdado Lorenzo, Galo Ocampo, Carlos Francisco, Gabriel Custodio, Vicente Manansala, Ricarte Purruganan, Romeo Tabuena, and others.


A suspension on artistic activity was prevalent during the Japanese occupation. However, some visual artists still managed to produce artworks based on the atrocities brought by the war.

Artists represented in the collection: Dominador Castañeda, Demetrio Diego, Diosdado Lorenzo, Romeo Tabuena, Gene Cabrera and others


After the Japanese occupation, the art community sprang back to life. Various themes and styles were explored and pioneered by Filipino artists who gained experience abroad.

Mural painting emerged, spearheaded by Carlos Francisco. Art Association of the Philippines (AAP) was established in 1948.
Burning of Sto. Domingo


The Philippine Art Gallery (PAG) was founded with young modernists as the leading figures. Emergence of different schools of thought (e.g. school of Botong Francisco, school of Manansala, emergence of the “Mabini” art group).
Christmas Card Series
Harana in Manila


Modern art reached its peak.
Ink Fish
First Mass at Limasawa
Planting of the First Cross
Mother and Child


Most of the artists in the 1960’s continued to produce important works in this period. Emergence of different movements such as People’s Art or Art for the Masses, Protest Art, Social Realism, and the institutionalization of the National Artist Award (1972). 11 National Artists whose works are represented in the collection:

       Fernando C. Amorsolo-1972 (Painting)
       Carlos V. Francisco-1973 (Painting)
       Guillermo E. Tolentino-1973 (Sculpture)
       Victorio C. Edades-1974 (Painting)
       Napoleon V. Abueva-1976 (Sculpture)
       Vicente S. Manansala-1981 (Painting)
       Cesar T. Legaspi-1990 (Painting)
       Hernando R. Ocampo-1991 (Painting)
       Arturo V. Luz-1997 (Painting)
       Jerry E. Navarro-1999 (Painting/Sculpture)
       Ang Kiukok-2001 (Painting)

Hills of Nikko


The period is characterized by a revival of traditional art and ethnic art. Contemporary sculpture became an integral part of buildings and parks.

Artists in the collection: Eduardo Castrillo, Ramon Orlina, Solomon Saprid, Raul Isidro, Red Mansueto, Charito Bitanga, Phillip Victor, Emilio Aguilar Cruz, Federico Alcuaz, Al Perez, Virginia T. Navarro, Abdul Mari Imao, Rey Paz Contreras, Jerusalino Araos, Norris Castillo, and others.


New generation of painters, sculptors and printmakers expressing their personal feelings and expressions emerged. Great art movement in Europe and the Americas gained entry to the local scene such as installation art and experimental art. Galleries and museums were institutionalized spearheading activities in the cultural scene.

Artists represented in the collection: Ibarra dela Rosa, Prudencio Lamarroza, Elizabeth Chan, Eduardo Castrillo, Pacita Abad, Fil dela Cruz, Romulo Galicano, Symfronio Y. Mendoza, Godofredo Y. Mendoza, Rafael Pacheco, and others.

2000 to present

Philippine art has come a long way, from the primitive ingenuity of the Filipinos to the present avante-garde artists exploring all possible techniques and schools ranging from the traditionalists, representationalists, abstractionists, abstract expressionists, semi-abstractionists, figurative expressionists, non-objectivists and other forms of -isms.

Art today is an open forum of visual statements.

This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
National Museum of the Philippines
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