Pre-war painting of Pasig River by Filipino master donated to National Museum

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Sep 22 2022 03:10 PM

A closer look at the 'Pasig River' painting by Fabian de la Rosa. Photo courtesy of Marissa Concepcion-Roque
A closer look at the "Pasig River" painting by Fabian de la Rosa. Photo courtesy of Marissa Concepcion-Roque

MANILA -- A pre-war view of the Pasig River, painted by renowned Filipino master Fabian de la Rosa, was donated by the heirs of Dr. Isabelo T. Concepcion to the National Museum of the Philippines recently.

The artist painted the masterpiece in the 1930s and gifted it to Dr. Concepcion, his friend, physician, and colleague at the University of the Philippines. They were contemporaries before the war.

De la Rosa served as faculty member and later, Dean of the College of Fine Arts. He became mentor to several Filipino artists including Guillermo Tolentino and Fernando Amorsolo.

Dr. Concepcion, meanwhile, taught at the UP College of Medicine and became the head of its Department of Physiology. He was recognized for his contributions to Philippine nutrition and dietary studies.

An accomplished artist noted De la Rosa’s painting today can fetch over a hundred million at an auction abroad.

The ceremonial endowment was led by Concepcion’s daughter, National Scientist Dr. Mercedes "Ditas" Concepcion, accompanied by members of the Concepcion family. The artwork was formally received by National Museum Director General Jeremy Barns.

The turnover was also graced by noted artist Impy Pilapil, who facilitated the donation to the National Museum.

The 'Pasig River' painting by Fabian de la Rosa was turned over to the National Museum. Photo courtesy of Marissa Concepcion-Roque
The "Pasig River" painting by Fabian de la Rosa was turned over to the National Museum. Photo courtesy of Marissa Concepcion-Roque

"I grew up seeing that painting given by the artist to my father," Concepcion told ABS-CBN News. "It's an honor to share it with the Filipino people."

The 94-year-old Concepcion is the youngest among the five children of the doctor, who was married to Remedios Barredo.

Their family also previously donated the doctor's valuable collection of scientific journals and books in medicine, biochemistry, and nutrition to the Institute of Nutrition, now known as the Food and Nutrition Research Center of the NIST (National Institute of Science and Technology).

Dr. Concepcion was undoubtedly instrumental in making the Filipino aware of the importance of nutrition and nutrition studies in the development of a healthy nation.

National Scientist Dr. Mercedes Concepcion (seated, center) with the family of Dr. Isabelo Concepcion. Photo courtesy of Marissa Concepcion-Roque
National Scientist Dr. Mercedes Concepcion (seated, center) with the family of Dr. Isabelo Concepcion. Photo courtesy of Marissa Concepcion-Roque

Meanwhile, Marissa Concepcion-Roque, granddaughter of Dr. Isabelo Concepcion, acknowledged it is an honor to donate the family heirloom to the National Museum.

"That painting has found a new home where it can be enjoyed by many," Roque said.

"That was our family's gift to the nation. May our nation's love and appreciation for art, history, and culture prevail."

De la Rosa's painting, "Pasig River," is one of the new offerings and another reason to visit the National Museum. The artwork joins Elmer Borlongan’s "The Battle of Mactan" and the 2,000 year-old Catanauan dagger as among the museum’s latest draws.

Since the National Museum reopened in 2021, with former President Rodrigo Duterte waiving the entrance fees in all three buildings, more walk-in visitors trooped to the complex that houses National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Anthropology, and National Museum of Natural History.

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