See the beauty of old Manila and Madrid through the brush strokes of the Pintora de Principes

Known as the Pintora de Principes, Isabella Wentendorp Brias, known among friends and fans as Betsy, is among the world celebrated artists, immortalizing notable personalities of history through her brush strokes.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila (MET) gives Filipino a chance to witness the works of the Spanish-Filipino artist at the museum’s ground floor Tall Galleries from Jan. 29 to March 15. 

Entitled “Passages: Celebrating the Artistic Journeys of Betsy Westendorp,” the retrospective gathers more than 100 artworks spanning 60 years of the artist’s illustrious professional painting career in various cities around the world. It alludes to the departure from her home country of Spain to commence what would be a lifetime relationship with the Philippines, and reveals the paths which would lead to her self-definition as a woman, a wife and mother, an artist. 

The exhibition, curated by Dannie Alvarez, features the artist’s portraits of the society elite of Madrid and Manila, landscapes of Philippine terrain, seascapes of Manila Bay, her colorful celebration of Philippine flora, especially the various species of the native orchid, and—literally in the sunset of her years—the grand symphonic cloudscapes across Philippine skies. 

By virtue of her marriage to Spanish-Filipino Antonio Brias in the 1950s and a lifetime residency in Manila, she has through the decades become a perceptive observer and an active participant in the Philippine art scene. 

In recognition of the artist’s valued contribution to Philippine art, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Merit in 2008. In 1976, His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain bestowed on her the distinguished Lazo de Dama, an exclusive order that is the equivalent of knighthood for women.

In strict compliance with IATF guidelines and pandemic health protocols, the exhibit will be presented in different hybrid formats in virtual and real time and space. 

A physical exhibition will be mounted at the MET ground floor Galleries as a real time launch pad for a 3D virtual tour, a biographical film documentary, various interviews and tributes by individuals and institutions, and the virtual launching of a printed catalogue of the “Retrospective” exhibition authored by art writer, curator, and critic Cid Reyes

Continuous education and public programs in line with the retrospective such as a fireside chat with Westendorp, webinars will be announced and can be followed through social media throughout the exhibition run.

The catalogue for “Passages: Celebrating the Artistic Journeys of Betsy Westendorp” will be produced in partnership with the De La Salle University Publishing House.

The “Retrospective” exhibition of Betsy Westendorp in related formats has been made possible by the generosity of sponsors and lenders and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (