Simon Flores

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Simon Flores y de la Rosa (28 October 1839 - 12 March 1904 ) was one of the most celebrated Filipino painters in the last quarter of the 19th century. He was born on 28 October 1839 in Manila in San Fernando de Dilao (now Paco), but went to live in Bacolor, Pampanga during the most prolific years of his career. He was influenced by his two uncles who were painters: Fabian Gonzales, who decorated the ceilings of Malacañang Palace and who collaborated with the Italian scenographists, Divella and Alberoni in house painting commissions for the native elite; and Pio de la Rosa, who was Flores’ first painting teacher.

Flores was enrolled the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura. Among his teachers there were the academy’s Spanish director Agustin Saez, Lorenzo Guerrero and Lorenzo Rocha. He set up his own studio after 4 years of studying. He accepted commissions for portraits, religious works and trompe l’oeil painting and held art classes. Among his students were his nephew, Fabian de la Rosa, who became an even more famous artist.

His work drew the attention of Monsignor Ignacio Pineda Tambungui, a canon of the Manila Cathedral and a chaplain at the San Juan de Dios Hospital, and led to a church-decorating commissions in Guagua, Pampanga, Sta. Rita, Mexico, Betis and ultimately, Bacolor. Here, in San Vicente, Simon settled down with his wife, the monsignor’s sister, Simplicia Tambungui. He continued painting and giving art lessons. Although unable to go abroad himself, some of his works won international awards.

After infection set in a wound inflicted by his emotionally distressed niece to whom he was giving art lessons as therapy, he died of gangrene in 1904.

Some of his awards

  • Silver Medal for La Orquesta del Pueblo (Music Band of the Town) in the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876
  • Top awards for Despues de la Ultima Cena (After the Last Supper) and El Prendimiento (The Arraignment of Christ), in a contest in honor of the tercentenary of the birth of St. John of the Cross (1891)
  • Honorable mention for The Expulsion, 1895 Regional Exposition of the Philippines

Some of his works

  • Quiazon Family, 1880 (Leandro Locsin Collection)
  • Cirilo and Severina Quiazon and Children, c.1880 (Central Bank Collection)
  • Primeras Letras (Learning to Read), c.1890, (Jorge Vargas Collection)
  • Feeding the Chickens, c. 1890 (Jorge Vargas Collection)
  • Simon Flores, c. 1890s. An auto-retrato, or self-portrait in charcoal used in an article about him in La Ilustracion Filipina.
  • A Man in Barong Tagalog and Wife in Maria Clara Dress, (UST Collection)
  • Dead Child, 1902. A memento mori (recuerdo de patay) of a deceased child. (National Museum Collection)
  • Various paintings for the baroque church of Betis: Inmaculada Concepcion, (Cupola area), Sagrada Familia (Rectory)

Reference Castro, Alex R. "Simon Flores’ Homegrown Art"