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 Alfredo Carmelo  (1896 - 1985)

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Lived/Active: Philippines      Known for: marine painting, seascapes

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from Auction House Records.
World War II Dog Fight I and World War II Dog Fight II
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The legacy of Alfredo Carmelo
ROSES & THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces 
Updated March 7, 2009 on

History is replete with accounts of many men and women who have distinguished themselves because of their countless achievements that have greatly contributed to the development of civilization and the betterment of society. Undoubtedly, these people are distinct and belong to a different breed. Fortunately, our country is not bereft of these kinds of people. Alfredo Carmelo is one fine example.

His andestral lineage alone is already truly unique, coming from a line of noble origins. Alfredo was born from parents Eulalio Carmelo and Maxima Casas. Alfredo's grandfather on his father's side, Gil Carmelo, was married to Magdalena Lakandula, a relative of Raja Lakandula. His grandfather on his mother's side, Pedro Casas, was the only son of Ambrosio Casas, who laws a Lt. Colonel who later became a full Colonel and was also knighted for the beautiful statue he created for the King of Spain. This statue presently stands in front of the Manila Cathedral. The Casas family were descendants of a noble family from Spain whose original surname was Casaus.

Alfredo Carmelo indeed was an exceptional individual. Whatever endeavor he undertook, he made sure he excelled in it. When he took to flying, he learned everything he could about it. His strong resolve to do extremely well in whatever he did earned him the distinction of being the first Filipino pilot to fly alone and unaided. This feat in 1920 has a significance that is not to be overlooked. Carmelo's feat puts him among the world's pioneers of aviation. He specialized in aerobatics and later on took part in many air shows. The First Filipino Pilot has received numerous awards in recognition of his pioneering work in local aviation including the 1961 Civil Aeronautics Administration Award that cites him "for meritorious and outstanding contribution to the growth and progress of aviation in the Philippines". Carmelo was eventually nominated to the Aerospace Hall of Fame in San Diego, California.

However immense his accomplishments in aviation may be, Carmelo's name perhaps will always be synonymous to local marine painting. While other more illustrious Filipino painters only occasionally focused on the sea as subject, Carmelo specialized in it. No other Filipino painter has made marine painting with the same historical perspective, attention to details, depth and love of the subject as Carmelo had shown in his works. He specialized in paintings of ships sailing in the high seas or docked in harbors. His art has been widely regarded as comparable to that of the English painter, Joseph Mallord William Turner and Wilhelm van de Velde the Younger, considered as the greatest of marine painters.

Hundreds of his canvases are found in museums and private collections in the country and in many plants of the world. His paintings of galleons, brigantines, frigates, schooners, clippers, Chinese juriks in pastel, oil or watercolor have earned him high esteem and approval here and abroad. Some of the ships featured prominently in his works are historically significant, such as The Encounter of the Nuestra Seņora de Cavadonga and the Centurion. Other scenes depicted in his artworks feature areas of historical significance such as Fort Santiago, Muelle de la Industria, Estero de Binondo, Muelle de Magallanes and Muelle de Farola; and picturesque scenes of the Pasig River, Manila Bay, Cavite, Batangas, Bohol, Iloilo and Mindanao. In 2006, Alfredo Carmelo was elevated to the San Beda College Hall of Fame for his exemplary achievements.

Carmelo's paintings are like portals that enable onlookers to travel back in time and get a better grasp of what it must have been like during those times. As what critic Seņor Guillot Carratala once said: "Painting must teach, in the nam wasy that a good theater piece teaches our traditions and educates us". Carmelo's works and accomplishments have catapulted the Filipino to world prominence. Through him, marine painting in the Philippines was brought to its full xxxx realization. It is just saddening to note that Carmelo's many achievements and contributions to the promulgation of Filipino culture have so far been overlooked. It is only fitting that our national government finally recognize the legacy that Alfredo Carmelo left behind by giving him the belated recognition of being a posthumous National Artist.

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