Asuncion family’s artistic legacy on display

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Paintings, illustrations, and sculptures of three of the most preeminent Filipino artists of 19th century—Asuncion brothers Justiniano, Leoncio, and Mariano—are now on their temporary home at Ayala Museum for a special exhibit.

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Entitled “Art and Family: The Asuncion Legacy,” the exhibition will be on display at the museum’s Third Floor Galleries until January 14, 2018.

Selected works include paintings and sculptures, miniatures, medallions, portraits, and watercolor illustrations by the aforementioned artists loaned from both private and institutional collections. Many are commissioned by the artist’s patrons and families and showcase both popular religious and secular motifs of the time.

The union of Mariano Asumpcion and Maria dela Paz Molo de San Agustin of Manila produced 12 children: Manuel (born 1732); Antonio (1794); Victoria (1796); Mamerta (1789); Justo (1800); Mariano(1802); Epifanio (1806); Ambrosio (1808); Pascuala (1811); Leoncio (1813); Justiniano (1816); and Canuta (1819), who had devoted their lives to the arts through paintings and sculpture. As a big family, art kept them a closely-knit clan.

Mariano (1802 to 1888) is the eldest of the featured artists and enjoyed a wide patronage of religious clientele. His subjects were mostly about the miracles of saints, the Passion of Christ and images of the Virgin Mary. His works are compared to Italian painters of the 13th – 15th centuries.

Leoncio (1813 to 1888), meanwhile, is considered as the Father of Modern Religious Sculpture. He is remembered for his santos made of ivory and wood.

Finally, Justiniano, fondly remembered as Kapitan Ting after having served as cabeza de barangay of Sta. Cruz, Manila in 1853, was a painter known for his portraits. Aside from exposure from practicing artists in his family, he also received artistic training under Damian Domingo (1796 to 1834) noted painter of portraits, miniatures and religious imagery, who established an art school in Tondo in 1821.

Many of the original works of the Asuncion family, however, have been lost through fire, earthquakes, floods, and wars.

The descendants hold regular meetings and reunions and have initiated this exhibition to honor the memory and legacy of the Asuncion family, whose works are held in high esteem in Philippine art history.

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