I have just spent several days searching online for artworks that depict the 1898 Battle of Manila Bay (also known as the Battle of Cavite). My search yielded a good number of interesting pieces. However, I found none that was created by a Filipino artist. This comes as no surprise. Although Filipinos pride themselves in being a “maritime” nation, the country has a paucity of marine art. Indeed, it lacks a tradition of such art — the kind of tradition that one finds in England, the United States, the Netherlands, Spain and other traditional maritime countries.

Still, it is dismaying to know that such a pivotal event in Philippine history has apparently been ignored by local artists. The Battle of Manila Bay signalled the end of four centuries of Spanish colonial rule in the country and the beginning of neary 50 years of American rule. That the battle was really a sham should not detract from its historical importance (see The mock battle that ended the Spanish-American War).

Here are seven works which depict the Battle of Manila Bay. The last one is by a Japanese artist, which should not surprise anyone as the Japanese, unlike the Filipinos, have a rich heritage of marine art.

The battle of Manila Bay, (delivering the last broadside), not dated
Artwork by Michael F. Tobin (Irish-American, c. 1844–1907)
Library of Congress, USA

The great naval battle off Cavite (Manila Bay), fought May 1st, 1898, 5:30 A.M. till 12:50 P.M. (noon), c. 1898
Chromolithograph by Kurz & Allison (Chicago, Illinois)
Library of Congress, USA

(Battle of) Manila Bay, not dated
Lithograph by Charles E. Pont (American, 1898–1971)
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Battle of Manila Bay, c. 1898
Artwork by Albert W. Holden (British, 1848–1932)
Library of Congress, USA

Batalla de Cavite, 1898
Oil painting by Ildefonso Sanz Doménech (Spanish, 1863–1937)
Museo Naval de Madrid
Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 licence

Battle of Manila Bay, May 1, 1898, c. 1899
Oil painting by Dr. Alfonso Sanz (Spanish, flourished 1890–1907)
Library Trust Fund, The Army and Navy Club, Washington, DC

Battle of Manila Bay, c. 1900
Woodblock print by Yosai Nobukazu (c. 1872–944)
Library Trust Fund, The Army and Navy Club, Washington, DC

You may also like this article: Battles at sea: 12 artworks that pack a punch

~ Barista Uno

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