Paz Paterno


b. Santa Cruz, Manila 1 Nov 1867, d. 25 Aug 1914

Paz was the ninth of Don Maximo Molo Agustin Polo Paterno’s children, the eight with his second wife Carmina Devera Ignacio. Paz’s siblings were also inclined towards the arts. Paz’s youngest half sister, Adelaida Paterno, was known for her work using embroidered hair. Dolores Paterno composed La Flor de Manila (Sampaguita). Pedro Alejandro Paterno’s novel, Ninay, written in 1885, was the first novel written by a Filipino published in Spanish. He also wrote the libretto Sandugong Panaginip (literally A Dream of Blood). He arranged the historic Pact of Biak-na-Bato in 1897 and was elected into the National Assembly in 1907. Another sister, Trinidad, also made embroidery using human hair entitled Rural Scene with Water Carrier made circa 1890s. Concepcion (Concha) Paterno was one of the women who joined the 1895 Exposicion Regional de Filipinas en Manila, in which she exhibited a paisaje done in embroidery.

Paz studied painting with a private tutor, Lorenzo Guerrero. According to Emmanuel Torres, “Paz developed her skill for painting and drawing from no less than three leading painters of the time: Lorenzo Guerrero, Felix Martinez, and Teodoro Buenaventura. From Guerrero she learned how to paint bodegones or still-lifes of Philippine fruits” (Kayamanan 60). She did not undergo formal training at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, because at that time, the Academia was still not open to women.

pazpaterno still life

Paz Paterno’s Still Life, 1884, Private Collection*

In 1884, when she was seventeen, Paz painted the Still Life and Fruits and Basket. These two are the earliest known existing artwork of a woman visual artist in the Philippines. In 1885, she painted Fruits and Flowers, River Scene with Banca, and River Scene with Steamboat. Another work, Still Life with Bird, is undated, but it is probable that it was also painted around the same period. Like her first work, Still Life, her effort to combine two subject matters – landscape and still life – in one painting. Paz’s works were not limited to landscapes and still life. She also painted a Portrait of a Woman, which is now in a private collection. Paz appears to be the most prolific of the women visual artists in the nineteenth century. In the span of two years, she produced seven works, and possibly more. All her works are in oil and canvas.


Still Life002

Paz Paterno, Still Life with Bird

Based on the exposition catalogue, Paz exhibited works in the 1895 Exposicion Regional de Filipinas en Manila, including a paisaje, four bodegones, and another paisaje entitled Orillas del Pasig.

Paz had tuberculosis and it is not known exactly when she contracted the illness. She lived in their house at Sta. Ana, Herran to recuperate. According to other relatives, she probably painted her paisajes from this house. She must have been forced to stop painting because of her illness, which according to her descendants, was partly caused by her painting. She died unmarried at the age of 47 on August 25, 1914.

*Photograph from 60 Philippine Art Masterpieces

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