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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 10.19: 19th Century French Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Pierre Charles Comte (1823-1895) was a French painter known for historical genre paintings. Comte was admired for his intimate interior scenes referencing Medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe. In his art, he concentrated on the more mundane life activities, which created a window into the past that contemporary viewers could relate to. Breaking from the usual era and location of his popular paintings, Comte painted this piece featured here titled Batelier de Manille [Boatman of Manila] from 1843.

Batelier de Manille - 1843 - by Pierre Charles Comte. A Filipino male boat worker in his Barong Tagalog

Batelier de Manille shows a boat worker walking on the shore by the sea on an average work day carrying a staff in his left hand and an oar in his right hand. This man is dressed like most other working class people of that time. He wears a long sleeve blue work Barong Tagalog with the sleeves undone and one rolled up. There are patches on it probably to mend holes or tears from repeated use and activity. He also wears cropped stripe work pants with one leg rolled up, for comfort and ease of movement, and a straw salakot on his head to protect him from the rain.