SAN ROQUE IN MINICHAPEL, PHILIPPINES C. LATE 19TH CENTURY, WOOD, GESSO, PAINT. PRIVATE COLLECTION, CANBERRA ACT – TAASA Review June 2013

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This article was originally found in the June 2013 edition of TAASA Review (Volume 22, Issue 2, Page 26).

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The fact that most people living on a group of islands in Southeast Asia came to own and cherish Christian images is of course due to Spain’s conquest of the Philippines in the mid 16th century.

Spanish rule lasted until 1898, ample time to leave behind a tangible legacy in many fields, including art. A massive push to proselytise by the Catholic Church meant lots of church building and decoration for which local carvers were increasingly employed, using as models the sculptures of saints in Renaissance and rococo styles brought in by the Spanish conquerors.

As time went on, these combined with Chinese and native Filipino influences to produce Christian religious sculpture of sometimes extraordinary quality and energy...