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Home NEWS Filipiniana Nineteenth-Century Filipino Photography to be exhibited at Ayala Museum

Nineteenth-Century Filipino Photography to be exhibited at Ayala Museum

The nineteenth century saw many innovations in capturing images, from the invention of “negative” photography (which allowed for the multiple printing of pictures) to the development of portable cameras to the devising of color photographs and cinema. While all of these were going on in Europe and the United States, a Panay-born photographer named Félix Laureano succeeded in practicing professional photography in the Philippines and Europe. As Spanish and other foreign photographers worked in Manila, Laureano set up a studio in Barcelona, had his work published in Spanish newspapers, and participated in expositions in Spain and Paris, as well as in Manila. In 1895, while his Filipino contemporaries were clamoring for colonial reforms, Laureano wrote Recuerdos de Filipinas, an album of Philippine scenes and landscapes with explanatory text. 

In 2008, an English translation of Recuerdos de Filipinas was published in Manila and sparked interest in Laureano’s life and works. Now considered as the first Filipino photographer, no biography of him exists and very little is known of his photographic legacy.

During a 2010 visit to Valladolid, Spain, Canada-based researcher Francisco G. Villanueva was introduced to the works of Félix Laureano. In 2011, he embarked on a personal project on Laureano which he now brings together in the talk-exhibit, FÉLIX LAUREANO: FIRST FILIPINO PHOTOGRAPHER, opening with a Curatorial Tour on July 18 at the Ayala Museum. Villanueva will share his knowledge of Laureano’s standing in the history of Philippine photography, his legacy, and his relevance to the present times. With objects and images sourced from various museums and archives in the Philippines and Spain, the exhibit will showcase Laureano’s works in portraiture, landscape, documentary and press photography.

Félix Laureano: First Filipino Photographer is part of the Filipinas Heritage Library’s Printed Word series, which presents the various collections of FHL in the context of Philippine history. For inquiries, please email asklibrarian@filipinaslibrary.org.ph or call 759-8288 local 45.