Inocencia Francia is a portrait in oil on canvas of the woman named in the work’s title. Shaped in an oval and measuring 105.4 x 83.8 cm, it was painted in 1876 by Antonio Malantic. It is part of the Leandro V. Locsin Collection.
The painting was done in a miniaturistic style, which was used to illustrate the ideals of elite beauty.
In the portrait, Inocencia Francia of the prominent Francia family of Pagsanjan, Laguna is shown in an exquisitely embroidered camisa (blouse) and holding a gold chain instead of wearing it around her neck, where it would have disappeared into her lace panuelo (neck cloth). She also wears a ring, a pair of earrings and a peineta (hair comb).
The painting’s subject has a neutral expression, which was deemed proper in the 20th century during the Spanish Colonial Period prior to the arrival of the Americans, who did not take bared teeth and casual poses as indicative of lack of breeding.
History and context
Inocencia Francia was painted in a time when the new elite of the Philippines wanted to memorialize their new material prosperity due to export-crop agriculture by landlords, merchants and agents of foreign trading houses.
The third quarter of the 19th century marked this rise of Filipino merchants and the portrait became a significant status symbol - it reflected that the family was rich due to their capability to pay for an artist to paint it, and it also showed the subject’s possessions which indicated wealth, such as clothing, jewelry, home decorations and furniture, among other elements pictured in the background.
- CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, 1st ed. Philippines: CCP Publications Office, 1994.
- Icagasi, Rosa Maria Magno. The Filipina as Artist and Art Subject in 19th Century Philippine Art. In Review of Women's Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2. Philippines: UP Diliman Journals, 1998. Accessed on 13 May 2021.