Rafael Enriquez

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Rafael Enriquez y Villanueva (1850-1937) was a painter and first director of the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts. He was also a supporter of the Philippine cause and associated with other Filipino propagandists such as Antonio Ma. Regidor. Even though he was a full-blooded Spaniard he considered himself Filipino and spoke Tagalog fluently.

He was born on 1 July 1850 to Antonio Enriquez y Sequera and Ciriaca Villanueva, both of whom were Spanish immigrants who settled in Naga, Camarines Sur. Antonio Enriquez's mother was descended from the historic de Sequera family with origins in Granada and from their great patriarch Bernardo de Sequera y Colón de Portugal. His maternal grandfather Francisco José Enriquez Giron Garcia immigrated to the Philippines in early 1800s, where his other siblings were born, including Francisco de Paula, Cayetano, Gertrudis, Manuel, and Antonio.

He was educated at the Ateneo Municipal and pursued his artistic studies at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura under the direction of Agustin Saez. He studied law in 1869 at the Universidad Central de Madrid, and after obtaining his licentiate, he enrolled at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. In Spain he achieved renown as a painter.

Some of the paintings he executed at that time were San Agustin, Una jitana tocando la pandereta (now in Jorge Vargas Museum), Carmen de Miranda, Alhambra and La lealtad filipina.

He moved to Paris in 1879 and settled there for 8 years, specializing in portrait paintings. Among his works in that period were portraits of the Marques de Rivera, Duque de Barros, and Don Prudencio Ybañez. In 1887 he transferred to London, where he stayed with Antonio Ma. Regidor. He executed his masterpiece La Muerte de Don Simon de Anda which was exhibited at the 1887 Exposicion General de Filipinas , later acquired by the National Library.

Rafael Enriquez returned to the Philippines shortly before the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution andpersonally witnessed the execution of Jose Rizal in Bagumbayan.

In 1909 he was apointed as professor of the newly established School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines, then located on Calle Resurreccion Hidalgo. In June 1909 he was appointed dean and remained as head of the scool until 15 June 1926 when he retired. He maintained a close association with the American portraitist John Singer Sargent. Among his disciples were Fernando Amorsolo.

During the American period he painted many portratis, including those of Mrs. Gregorio Araneta, Mrs. Maximo Viola and Guy Potten Benson. Victorio Edades described his paintings as "characteristically European, for his color are subdued," with Enriquez preferring "gray, bluish-green, and greenish-yellow colors" from his pallette.

Rafael Enriquez married Elvira Chacon, originally from Antequera, Andalucia, the daughter of the Marquez de Zela. Among his children were Rafael Jr., also an artist, and Ciri Enriquez.


  • M.M. Norton, Builders of A Nation. Manila, 1914.
  • "The Life of Rafael Enriquez." in Philippines Free Press, April 8, 1933.
  • [www.nhi.gov.ph/downloads/ed0012.pdf National Historical Institute biographical profile of Rafael Enriquez] Accessed 6 September 2009
  • CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Volume 4. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.
  • Duldulao, Manuel. "The Philippine Art Scene." Hong Kong: Toppan Printing, 1977.
  • Duldulao, Manuel. "A Century of Realism in Philippine Art." Hong Kong: Toppan Printing, 1988.



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