Visit to the MET Museum

There are only a few paintings that I know; The Last Supper and Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, Las Meninas by Diego Velasquez and Starry Night over the Rhone by Vincent van Gogh

And remember this?

Yup! It was only because of Bean: The Movie that I learned it is Whistler's Mother by James McNeill Whistler. LOL! :)

But no matter how little I know about paintings and the arts, I can still remember how I was in love with sketching and paintings inspired by reality and those that are often obscured by what is visible when I was 10. I even dreamed of becoming an artist.

Weeks ago, I got a few exchange of emails with Fralynn Manalo of Metropolitan Museum of Manila - Museum Marketing about an exhibit of a famous Chilean artist. I knew I’ve read about him, but I wasn’t sure when. Sadly, it was last year (2011) when he died.

His name? Claudio Bravo.

Photo Credits: Rafael Cidoncha

Claudio Nelson Bravo Camus was born on Nov. 8, 1936, in Valparaíso, Chile and grew up in a farm in Melipilla, where his father is a rancher and a businessman. He took lessons with Miguel Venegas Cifuentes, an academic artist, but he was largely self-taught. And reading through his biography brings definition that he was born to be a famous artist someday. He danced with the Compañia de Ballet de Chile and acted at the Teatro Ensayo at the Catholic University of Chile. But he always goes back to painting and after staying in Concepción, he became a sought-after portrait painter.

When the date was set for my visit at the MET, I decided to do a little more research. But meeting the MET Museum's Curator Tats Rejante Manahan is more like reading all research materials about Claudio Bravo. 

She knows Claudio Bravo. And she have met him personally when she and her husband had a trip in MoroccoTats mentioned that in celebration of strengthening ties between the Philippines and Chile, the Embassy of Chile and Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is presenting a landmark exhibit of works and passion of Chile’s famous artist at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, in time to coincide with the National Day celebration of Chile – the Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila.

Walking inside and going through the first six paintings would give you the idea that Claudio Bravo has been inspired a lot by many Filipino and fell in love with distinct history and imagery, our skin color and race served as inspiration and beauty to him. Even more with the rest on the walls where you’ll see more portraits especially of the rich and famous people in Manila's high society.

In 1968, Claudio Bravo was invited by the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos to the Philippines to paint her and former President Ferdinand Marcos. However, Bravo's visit materialized to grace the 40th wedding anniversary of Eugenio Lopez Sr. and Pacita together with Spanish and Bulgarian royalty. He felt familiar warmth in the Philippines which reminded him so much of his native Chile. He stayed in Manila even after the royal guests left and created a strong following among the high society.   

Portrait of Imelda R. Marcos

Bravo’s ability to depict creases, indentations, and folds in his still life was reminiscent of Spanish masters such as Zurbarán and Velázquez. Demonstrating mastery in all techniques and mediums on paper, his superior draftsmanship closely resembled the style of the Renaissance-Baroque tradition.

"I think the Philippine portraits are, perhaps, my most lucid paintings, because it was a different race, beautiful!"

Claudio Bravo's delicately drawn life-like portraiture captured the illustrious personalities of a society that was attempting to surface its noble past in the  novelty of the 60's. Bravo completed about 30 portraits of distinguished figures with iconic realism that can instantly tell a story. 

Bravo painting Conchita Lopez Taylor in 1968

The emotion he was able to capture in his oil paintings is also present in his lithographs, which hold the same warmth and level of detail.  His most recent series of lithographs features animals and skulls of animals native to his home in Morocco.

Claudio Bravo, whose technically dazzling trompe-l’oeil paintings of paper-wrapped packages and draped cloth blended hyperrealism and classical Spanish influences, died on June 4 at his home in Taroudant, Morocco. He was 74.

Let me show you some of the portraits approved by the collectors to be published:

 The iconic portrait of Ma. Lourdes Araneta Fores, 1968


 Margarita delos Reyes

 Portrait of Chona R. Kasten

 Conchita Taylor

 Dr. Constantino Manahan

 Elvira Manahan

 Luis Araneta

Pacita Lopez 

 Regina Dee

Evelyn Forbes

Other portraits are of Jaime and Beatriz Zobel de Ayala, Maria Luisa Prieto Lovina holding a white Gumamela, Inigo and Rocio Zobel Urquijo, Gretchen Oppen Cojuangco, Katherine Young and more. Cecile Locsin holding an antique little bell, and Leandro Locsin with a piece of sheet music placed on a table – wherein Bravo is fond of illustrating of his objects’ personality in his portraits. 

The exhibit also includes sketches and works of Claudio Bravo like MADONA CON SN. JUAN PELEANDO CON EL NINO JESUS POR UNA MARIPOSA, Venetian Carnival and many more.

Earlier that week, Socialite-philanthropist Tessa Rufino Prieto-Valdez – fashion designer, columnist and party host extraordinaire – was also visiting in the exhibit and took her photo on my most favorite Claudio Bravo sketches - Crabwoman. :)

There was a drawing session happening too. 

The model doesn't look tired 
though hours in same straight position.

She's pretty, don't you think? :)

Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila is open to the public and will run until October 20, 2012. The exhibit will be accompanied by weekly activities on Saturdays, including a curator’s talk, portraiture lecture and drawing session. Entrance  fee of  Php 100 covers the featured forum or event of the day admission.  

A ‘Still’ Life
      Date:    Saturday, 29 September 2012 @ 10:00 am
      White Cube Gallery
Art historian Cid Reyes talks about still life painting tradition in the Philippines. His survey on the subject and still life painters in the country will be followed by a still life drawing and painting session involving objects often used by Bravo in his creations.

Fashion Portraits: Inspired by Claudio Bravo
     Date:   Tuesday, 2 October 2012 @ 1:00pm
     Upper  Galleries' Bridge
Claudio Bravo’s portraits are distinct for their fashion flair and daring. Fashion Portraits is a portrait session involving female models and visual artists as sitters, donned in haute couture by the country's leading designers. Students of fine arts and photography capture the sitters. The event is made possible by Summit Media’s Preview Magazine.

Curator’s Talk
    Date:     Saturday, 06 October, 2012 @ 10:00am
    White Cube Gallery
Tats Manahan talk on the techniques and influences of the Manila portraits; the stories behind the portraits and sitters; and the implications of the artist's work ethics and art philosophy to today's generation of artists.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is open from 9am - 6pm (Mondays-Saturdays), 
located at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. 

For information, call 708-7829 
or visit 


  1. The artworks are classic. Portraits of Filipino icons in the 70s. It would be great to see this one.

  2. Classic, elegant artworks that looks somehow 'alive', especially that of Imelda Marcos.

    I was also invited but I had a conflict with the schedule.

  3. The Imelda portrait is beautiful! I wish I could get a chance to see them one day. Is this exhibit for invitation only? If not, how much is admission for the public?

  4. Hi fyhmd,

    Claudio Bravo: Sojourn in Manila is open to the public and will run until October 20, 2012. The entrance fee is Php 100 covers the featured forum or event of the day admission. :)

  5. Now I feel a little weird that I've seen a lot of museums overseas but none of the major ones over here.

  6. Those works of art look great! It's a good thing that you can take pictures inside the museum as most don't allow it.

  7. These works are awesome. It shows that the artist has some really good hands and an unshakable concentration to pull off these works :)

  8. Never were a fan of Art Galleries. I tried going to a few museums while in NY, just to ignite even a spark of interest, but I guess you can't really force yourself to like what you don't. I do appreciate the talents, though.

  9. I think one of the reason he clicks here is he has a great appreciation of the Filipino people and culture.

  10. His paintings are superbly life-like, which makes it more interesting and priceless. I'm happy to know that he found the Filipinos beautiful.

  11. These are awesome master pieces of the great CLAUDIO BRAVO. His hands are truly gifted and those portraits are living evidence.

  12. Masterpiece. Each one of them. When I was a kid, aside from magical powers and a twin, I wished I knew how to paint :) mine were just stick figures :/

  13. really amazing are those paintings are! Filipino's are indeed talented people that should be proud of. .

  14. Ang ganda naman ng mga portraits na to! So beautiful :)

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  16. I love what Claudio Bravo said about the Philippine portraits... "most lucid paintings, because it was a different race, beautiful!"
    For me, every painting will turn out great when the subject is beautiful :)

  17. Wow, so lovely portrait paintings of famous people in the Philippine Society.
    It would be an honor to be painted someday by a famous painter. eeehhe Nangarap!

  18. Its good to know that he really appreciates the Filipinos as his subjects, and those are prominent individuals indeed.

  19. Those are classic artworks. Only geniuses do then and that include Claudio Bravo.

  20. Those are just brilliant pieces. I especially like the Imelda Marcos piece!

  21. I love the paintings, very classic indeed! Makes me want to take one and hang on my bedroom! :)

  22. Nice museum, and they have the whistlers mother, the one that mr bean damaged when he went to the US


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