Philippines

‘La Barca de Aqueronte’ by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, 1887

Hidalgo, F.R. (c. 1887) “La Barca de Aqueronte” (painting). Lopez Museum and Library, Makati,
Philippines. (lopezmuseum.org.ph/stories/navigating-the-underworld)

One of the major works of Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, a great Filipino painter of the late 19th century, “La Barca de Aqueronte,” or “Charon’s Boat,” exemplifies Hidalgo’s neoclassical style of painting.

Inspired by the artist’s reading of Dante’s “Inferno,” the oil-on-canvas painting shows nude figures in agony or the souls of the damned as they are ferried across the River Acheron and into the underworld by boatman Charon, a solitary figure on the other side of the scene.

Together with its companion piece “La Laguna Estigia,’’ or “River Styx,” the painting won Hidalgo a gold medal in the 1887 Exposicion General de las Islas Filipinas in Madrid. In 1892, it received a gold medal at the Exposicion Internacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid.

It was purchased for 7,500 pesetas by the Spanish government in 1893 and hung at Museo-Biblioteca de Ultramar. Later on, it found a permanent home at Museo Nacional de Pinturas de Madrid. A study of the painting can be found in Lopez Museum and Library.

While Hidalgo is acknowledged as one of the greatest Filipino painters, he lived a quiet life as he spent three decades abroad, longer than the period he lived in the Philippines.

—Arianne Suarez, Inquirer Research

Sources: Inquirer Archives, CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, lopezmuseum.org.ph

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