Rosa Duarte, portrait of a heroine

As far as is known, there is no photograph of Rosa Duarte, sister of the Father of the Dominican Nation, Juan Pablo Duarte.

The images shown of her are idealizations by visual artists such as Miguel Núñez, Cristian Hernández, Orestes Toribio, Ramón Sandoval and Juan Gilberto Núñez, based on a photograph not authenticated by descendants of the Duarte family or by historians.

To these idealizations is now added one by Dustin Muñoz, an extraordinary painter, whose portrait of Rosa Duarte has been selected by the Duartiano Institute and the Dominican Postal Institute for a stamp commemorating the bicentennial of this heroine recently exalted to the Pantheon of the Homeland.

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To carry out this work, Dustin has taken as a reference the photographs of Rosa’s brothers: Juan Pablo, Vicente Celestino and Manuel; and Vicente’s granddaughter, Matilde; achieving an image that has, undoubtedly, the air of the Duarte, and that perhaps represents the best visual approach to this exceptional woman.

Dustin Muñoz states: “I have represented her at the age she was at the time of independence, just under 24 years old. It is a symbolic work, set with elements from different times that allow viewers to immediately identify that they are in front of a portrait of a figure in the history of the country ”.

The interpretation that Dustin Muñoz has made of Rosa Duarte differs from those of his colleagues not only in physical characteristics but also in symbolic intention.

During the conversation with the artist, while the other portraits show her posing against a neutral background, that of Dustin presents her in an atmosphere allusive to her work as a revolutionary and as a front-line chronicler of the life and work of her heroic brother. through its essentials Notes for the history of Santo Domingo and for the biography of the Dominican General Juan Pablo Duarte y Diez.

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DM: “I chose to contextualize Rosa in the independence atmosphere of the night of February 27 that gives rise to the homeland: a mixture of event and reminiscence, of act and consequences of what happened that night. Obviously, as a national symbol the tricolor ensign could not be absent. Motivated by Rosa’s contributions to the independence struggle and to history, I decided to set the pictorial space with elements that are part of the national coat of arms. That is why the palm branch, the laurel, the four flags without shields and the two lances can be seen in the background of the composition. In addition, Rosa carries the cross of the national emblem in her outfit and on her legs rests the Dominican flag that welcomes an open bible, containing within it the Notes manuscripts and some letters, fastened with a tricolor headband for the patriotic value they represent ”.

The piece is made of acrylic on canvas and has a format of 44 x 33 inches, which allows the portrayed figure to have a natural size that gives it realism. “Because of the place where the work will be placed in the Duartiano Institute, and to keep harmony with the other pieces exhibited there —where Juan Pablo Duarte is the central figure—, I chose a range of soft nuances that, although it is a pluritonal work and of a diverse color, they are harmonized with layers of sepia-trend glazes. This, on the one hand, gives time to the work, gives it temporary distance; and, on the other hand, it complements the psychological character that surrounds the represented figure ”.

What does it mean for you to make a portrait of Rosa Duarte on the bicentennial of her birth?

DM: “Carrying out this work is going back to history playing a role of civic responsibility. It is to value our heroes and heroines in their proper dimension, identify their contributions, their selfless dedication and their sacrifices. In the case that concerns us, it is not painting a woman and that’s it; it is studying her, analyzing her environment, putting myself in her place and trying to understand the character’s feelings and her psychological state ”.

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How should we see and feel your portrait of Rosa Duarte?

DM: “As a compositional structure, I have tried to make the person portrayed challenge the viewer with her penetrating gaze and at the same time let her feel her state of mind. In that sense, his face is the center of interest of the composition. I hope that whoever observes the work will recognize that we owe an infinite debt to the Duarte family, and that Rosa, being able to choose a more affluent life, preferred sacrifice and exile — for that reason I present in the work the delicacy of her posture and the quality of their clothing— ”.

There is no original image of Rosa Duarte, but her iconography grows and begins to mark milestones, like this wonderful portrait of Dustin Muñoz.

To carry out this work is to return to history by playing a role of civic responsibility. It is to value our heroes and heroines in their proper dimension, to identify their contributions, their selfless dedication and their sacrifices “, values ​​Dustin Muñoz.

This represents, perhaps, an evidence of the revaluation of her patriotic contributions, of the interest in knowing her sacrifice and courage, of the need to highlight her qualities as a woman and a citizen, which in this bicentennial of her birth have placed her in a place to the height of his dignity.

Written by Luis Martin Gómez.

“I hope that whoever observes the work will recognize that we have an infinite debt to the Duarte family, and that Rosa, being able to choose a more affluent life, preferred sacrifice and exile”

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