Tag Archive: Death Of Cleopatra

Today I’m ready for another Photowalk. Best in the mornings, then brunch, then siesta? It’s amazing how days somehow fall into some kind of routine.



Free hours at the Museum are late afternoons or early evenings anyway. (Cheapskate!) But I can’t wait. When I saw that the Museo de Prado has some Hermitage artworks on exhibit, I immediately bought a ticket so I can have more time to leisurely view the collections. Spent all of 2 hours viewing the Prado collections and another 2 hours for a quick lunch in the Museum Cafeteria and the Hermitage exhibits.






No photographs allowed inside. But I’m happy. Truly, the Prado is Madrid’s pride. The immense hoard of Spanish treasures, along with those of Flemish, Dutch, Italian masters feed the soul. My favorites are Goya’s “The Naked Maja” , Rubens “Adoration of the Magi” and “Three Graces”, El Bosco’s “The Garden of Delights” and Van der Weyden’s “Descent from the Cross”. I also liked Velasquez’ Meninas and Crucified Christ. The Hermitage Collection is an added bonus. I have been to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg back in 2004 and promptly concluded that Catherine the Great is the greatest shopper, collector and hoarder of them all. I’m no art connoisseur but I enjoyed my time at the Museum.






How I wish Juan Luna’s painting of “The Battle of Lepanto” is also hanging here rather than in Madrid’s Senado. I have yet to figure out how to view this masterpiece, but I’m determined not to leave Madrid without seeing it. (I actually did. Check out my blog on it) It also gives one immense pride to see Juan Luna’s “Death of Cleopatra” hanging side by side with Spanish Masters. Unfortunately, the 2nd time I visited the Prado to view this Luna painting once more, it was no longer there. When I checked with the Information Desk, I was informed it was put on storage. 😦







As i walked out of Prado, I turned green with envy of the guests staying in the adjacent Ritz Hotel. Such a lovely edificio! And in the best location too! One day. One day soon. I shook off the envy and instead dropped in on nearby San Jeronimo Church before rounding up the corner to view the Plaza de la Cibeles. One thing I love about Madrid is the many rotundas, gloriettas, museos, plazas, monuments, fountains and gardens they have. This city, both cosmopolitan and “old world” at the same time, makes each day a photowalk day.






I was tempted to walk back to Puerta del Sol from the corner where Banco Espana stood and where I can get a glimpse of Cybele, the Greek fertility goddess, looking smug seated on a chariot pulled by 2 lions. Naaah. Not today. No rush. Today is strictly Museum Day. Prado Day. Thyssen and the rest can wait another day.








Can’t resist including this excerpt from Rizal’s impromptu speech at a dinner in honor of Luna and Hidalgo at the Hotel Ingles:



“Luna and Hidalgo are as much Spanish glories as they are Filipino. Just as they were born in the Philippines, they could have been born in Spain, because genius has no country, genius blossoms everywhere, genius is like the light, the air, it is the heritage of all”

How much do we know of the Luna brothers? Honestly? I simply know one is a painter, the other a General. Both are patriots. And both are friends and contemporaries of Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Many of us would think that knowledge is enough. Toinks!

Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte

On our way from Laoag to Vigan, we passed Badoc, Ilocos Norte. This is the last town of Ilocos Norte. And this is the birthplace of the Luna brothers. The Juan Luna Shrine can be found here — a building made of brick housing the memorabilia and paintings of this patriotic, and very controversial painter.

Death of Cleopatra (Museo del Prado @Madrid)

Spolarium (now on display @National Museum of the Philippines)

Luna killed his wife and mother-in-law because of


So goes the story. Makes for a great headline.

The patriot who painted such classics and award-winning Spoliarium (Gold Medal, 1884, now on display at the National Museum of the Philippines), Death of Cleopatra (Silver Medal, 1881, Museo del Prado in Madrid), Parisian Life (another Silver Medal, 1889, GSIS Museum), Battle of Lepanto, Blood Compact (1886, Malacanang Palace), Una Bulakenya (1895, Malacanang Palace), among others. The patriot as a murderer? Says who?

Inside Juan Luna Shrine

The Tour Guide did not miss a beat telling and retelling this story. Sure, Juan Luna shot his mother-in-law and wife dead. We also just learned that he shot his brother-in-law Felix Pardo de Tavera too in the same incident, but this “lucky” fellow survived. Was it an accident or was this a crime of passion?

Most answers you’d find point to Juan Luna shooting his wife Paz in a fit of jealousy. The accused lover was a certain Monsieur Dussaq. Having settled in Paris after his marriage, I can only assume this Dussaq is one Frenchman. So, did Juan shoot his wife et al? All this after only 6 years of marriage. Our Ilocano Tour Guide has another version. Like Juan tried to force open the door to their home in Paris by shooting at the door knob, not knowing the mother-in-law was peeping through the keyhole with the wife right behind her. Quite a stretch………..if you ask me. But oh well, that’s the version. (*big yawn)

The couple had 2 children but one died in infancy. The surviving child, Andres, is also a painter and the architect who designed Arlegui House, the residence of ex-President Cory Aquino, and the San Vicente de Paul Church in San Marcelino Street. Many of his works were unfortunately destroyed during the Second World War.

Rizal as a Scribe? or a Sphinx?

Una Bulakenya (Used To Be On Display @Malacanang Palace, Now @National Art Gallery)

The Other Luna Brothers

Juan’s passion for the arts was influenced by his brother Manuel who was also a painter. A better one, if we were to believe Dr. Jose Rizal. From Badoc, Ilocos Norte, the Luna family moved to Manila where the brothers studied. Manuel and Juan traveled together to Spain where Juan had more art (painting) lessons while Manuel ventured into music and later claimed fame as a violinist.

When Juan was arrested for shooting his wife and later acquitted (on grounds of insanity), it was Antonio (yes, General Antonio Luna) who accompanied him from Paris to Madrid and finally to Manila. Both brothers were arrested for rebellion charges, and later released. Juan headed back to Spain, while Antonio remained and was later killed by the Kawit Batallion (another controversial story involving Emilio Aguinaldo, but that’s another story).

One unfinished, intriguing story involves the painting “Una Bulaquena” or Woman from Bulacan. The painting was inspired by a woman who was allegedly the one great love of Antonio Luna, though the other version cites Juan having courted her after losing/shooting Paz. A case of sibling rivalry? Who knows?

This photo shows how tall or short Rizal was..........

Juan Luna’s Distinguished Models

Not many of us know that Dr. Rizal actually posed as Datu Sikatuna in Juan Luna’s “Blood Compact”. In his silver award-winning painting “Death of Cleopatra”, our national hero actually posed in earlier sittings as a scribe complete with a headdress , making him look like a sphinx. Juan Luna himself posed as Marc Anthony in the same painting. Somehow, I can imagine how these men must have enjoyed all these sittings, horsing around, posing in costumes, etc.

The original Parisian Life painting used to hang here in Bahay Nakpil-Bautista in Quiapo

Then of course everybody knows Dr. Rizal was one of the 3 models in the GSIS-acquired “Parisian Life”. The other 2 gentlemen in the painting were Juan Luna himself and Ariston Bautista, in whose house this same painting hung for years. Errr, that is yet another story again.

But these men were not just models. They were our heroes. Patriots. Gentlemen-friends, if you may. Their love of country, passion for the arts and literature, intellect, perhaps even love of women must have bound them like blood brothers in a place far away from home and family, in an era marked by secret alliances and trysts, murder and heroism.

C’est la vie………..

Inside the Shrine @Badoc, Ilocos Norte

Exit Through The Backyard: More Paintings (Reproductions)