The painting History of Manila, more known today as Filipino Struggles Through History, was commissioned by Antonio J. Villegas, Mayor of Manila from 1962 to 1971, from the foremost modernist historical painter of the time, Carlos V. Francisco (1912-1969).
Designed especially for the Bulwagan ng Katipunan (today the Bulwagang Gat Antonio Villegas) at Manila City Hall, this work was the culmination of the artist’s acclaimed efforts towards depicting the sweeping history of the Filipino people from pre-colonial times through the centuries of Spanish and the American government, and onward to independence and the modernity of the post-war decades, in an artistic journey that was fully manifested first in The Progress of Medicine in the Philippines(1953, collection from the University of the Philippines Manila-Philippine General Hospital), the 500 Years of Philippine History at the Manila International Fair (1953, with surviving fragments in the collection of the National Library of the Philippines) and then such succeeding works as The Pageant of Commerce (1956, collection of the Lopez Memorial Museum).
Completed in 1968, less than a year before his death, this is the last and most monumental work of Carlos V. Francisco, who for his superlative artistic accomplishment was posthumously proclaimed as a National Artist of the Philippines in 1973. In recognition of its exceptional artistic significance, the painting was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum in 1996.
Reference: National Museum of Fine Arts
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