The Assassination of Governor Bustamante

The Assassination of Governor Bustamante
The Assassination of Governor Bustamante | @museumxstOries

The painting “El Asesinato del Gobernador Bustamante” (The Assassination of Governor Bustamante) by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, which hangs in the National Museum of Fine Arts, depicts a significant and controversial historical event. Governor-General Bustamante, upon assuming office in 1717, discovered significant losses in the Royal treasury and arrested several officials and members of religious corporations involved in the anomaly. His actions, including the arrest of Archbishop Francisco de la Cuesta for refusing to yield the accused, led to a retaliatory mob led by friars, resulting in the assassination of Bustamante and his son. Subsequently, Archbishop de la Cuesta became the interim governor-general. The painting, was commissioned 170 years later by nationalist Antonio Ma. Regidor, reflects Regidor’s anticlerical sentiments, although it controversially portrays Spanish missionaries as promoters of the murder.

Hidalgo, known for his compassionate works, was convinced by Regidor to paint this anti-Church piece, despite its contradiction with his earlier works. After its creation, the painting was not immediately claimed by Regidor and remained largely hidden until Hidalgo’s family repatriated it after he died in 1913.

Architect Leandro Locsin became its caretaker in 1971, and it was eventually declared a National Cultural Treasure. The painting was first publicly exhibited during the National Museum Week of 1974. After Locsin’s death, his family donated the painting to the National Museum, where it now stands as a significant piece of Filipino cultural and historical heritage.

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