Tag Archive: Luna

Such distinguished Filipinos. Estoy. Muy. Orgullosa! I. Am. Very. Proud. As were the Filipinos then based in Madrid who celebrated these Masters’ victories as Gold and Silver Medalists in the 1884 Madrid Arts Exposition. For Juan Luna, his Spoliarium earned him a Gold Medal. Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo earned his Silver for his “Las Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho” (The Christian Virgins Exposed to the Populace), which showed a bunch of boorish looking males mocking semi-naked female slaves. A copy of this painting now hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. The original was destroyed in a fire at the University of Valladolid in Spain. A pity.





Juan Luna’s Spoliarium



I visited the National Art Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines on separate occasions. Just a couple of days apart. I had the rare chance to stand in the middle of the Hall of Masters all by my lonesome self. And to get really close to Luna’s Spoliarium. My iPhone came in handy, though the shots could be better. Por supuesto! But ain’t complaining. I love how I can walk around unburdened by a camera slung around my neck.




Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo’s “Christian Virgins Exposed to the Populace”



They had more restrictions at the Metropolitan Museum though. No photography allowed. Not even if you promise not to use flash. (Photo shown here was sourced from the Net. thank you, Google) Same restrictions apply in the Ayala Museum where a guard gently reminded me of such restrictions when I whipped out my iPhone in front of an Edades painting. I’m not complaining but it behooves me why different rules apply. In the case of Hidalgo’s Christian Virgins, I wasn’t even allowed to get within a couple of meters from the copy of this masterpiece. Yes, a copy. Yet, I was allowed to snap close-up shots of the original Spoliarium by Luna.




Close Up Shot of Luna’s Spoliarium. National Art Gallery.



These 2 obra maestros by Luna and Hidalgo bagged Gold and Silver Medals in the 1884 Madrid Arts Exposition. A victory celebrated by Filipino patriots then based in Madrid, to include our very own Dr. Jose Rizal. The venue for the victory banquet still stands today in Madrid, in Echegarray Street just a few strolls from Puerta del Sol. In this banquet, our national hero — who’s said not to have eaten the whole day for lack of funds — gave more than a toast to honor Luna and Hidalgo. More like a speech. A speech so full of bravado and spunk, where Rizal frontally attacked the religious establishment. Perhaps a preview of the Padre Damasos and Padre Silvas in his Noli Me Tangere. If you ever get to Madrid, do check out Hotel Ingles and “stand proud” as forefathers did. And while you’re there, be sure to visit Rizal’s other favorite haunts.




Hotel Ingles. Echegarray Street, just a few strolls from Puerta del Sol. Madrid.



If you haven’t been following my Madrid Blog Series, let me leave you with this excerpt from Rizal’s impromptu speech at the Hotel Ingles victory banquet. My man. Truly, Rizal’s Filipino pride shone through.


“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”


My afternoon was suddenly freed up, so how best to spend the time? The sun’s out and a walking tour is out of the question lest I feel like having a heat stroke. Shopping is not an option. I’ve also met my quota of 2 movies max in a week. I don’t feel like reading a book as the one I’m reading now is way too serious, too profound for my taste but nevertheless deserving of a read. I’m not hungry (yet) and I’ve been considering a walk in Chinatown when the heat is more bearable. Between NOW and a dimsum and lumpia fix in Chinatown, there’s the National Art Gallery.



Juan Luna’s Spoliarium


Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo’s “Assasination of Governor Bustamante”


In my first entry, I advised going to the Museum on a full stomach. This time around, I did the rounds while my stomach constantly reminded me of kutchay dumplings in this “hole-in-the-wall” dimsum place” off Ongpin Street. Without breaking a stride, I walked up the stairs to the Art Gallery. Sans camera. Sans bag. What I needed filled my pockets.







Siri was good company when I was strolling around Madrid as it is here within Museum walls. There was no crowd so I was able to spend as much time in the Hall of Masters Luna and Hidalgo. Almost mindlessly, I walked right up to the center of the hall between Luna’s “Spoliarium” and Hidalgo’s “Assassination of Governor Bustamante”. With each masterpiece, I inched closer, as if I’d find new meaning as I view the painting up close. I took my time snapping photos with my iPhone camera. Easily, I spent 10-15 minutes in this single hall. It’s not everyday after all that you find yourself ALONE in the Hall of Masters. No crowds. No student groups. No noisy chatty teenagers! No DLSR-toting tourists. 🙂







Both masterpieces have so many characters and it is quite interesting to read the facial expression, mannerism, body language and “aura” of each character. Now, that’s coming from a layman. I have neither the aptitude nor the training for art but I see what I see. Whatever and however the painting makes me feel is completely my own. Regardless of who painted what, I derive a certain sense of meaning. Intended or not by the artist, this is WHAT or HOW this and that painting made me feel.






I dare not share my sentiments and personal interpretations with anyone. No pretensions here. Both Luna and Hidalgo intended those masterpieces to convey a message. Whether i did get that message or not is my problem. But some may wish to dwell on the “separation of Church and State” or lack of it upon viewing Hidalgo’s “Assassination of Governor Bustamante”. Or how Luna’s very Roman scene in Spoliarium may invite discussions on human rights violations or the Filipinos’ sufferings during that time. The serious artists may deliberate on the significance of the red shade and the dominance of bodies throughout the painting, the interplay of light and shadows or whatever sounds artsy. I have no interpretation. I asked Siri and Siri delivered a well-researched Wikipedia spiel. Then I snapped away. So what I have to share with you are these close up photos from my iPhone cam. Tell me what you think!





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”

Having visited the Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte last July seems to have driven us to search for more Lunas. Or rather, to dig deeper into the mind of this great patriot and artist. More than his art, there is that most interesting if not tragic side to this hero’s life.

Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc , Ilocos Norte

The tour guide here should be commended. Not easy to hold the attention of my 2 elves, aged 10 and 13, the whole hour we were here. I particularly liked how he presented Luna to us as the artist while talking of the gold award he won in a Madrid art competition with the masterpiece, “Spoliarium”. A copy hangs in this Shrine while the original adorns the Masters Hall in the National Art Gallery. Or Luna as a romantic with a painting of “Una Bulaquena” where the original painting used to hang in Malacanang Palace till it was transferred to the National Art Gallery.

The Original

The Original

In one trip to the National Art Gallery, the Luna paintings showed how his art has evolved through the years spent in Madrid and Paris. But what caught my attention were some Luna paintings with no attribution. Was it Juan or Manuel who painted these? Jose Rizal once said Manuel , the brother of Juan and Antonio Luna, is the better painter but Manuel chose to study music instead.

That Little Girl Reminds Me of Someone Named Luna

My search brought me to a Lecture Series on Juan Luna at the GSIS where its museum proudly hangs the celebrated GSIS investment in a Luna painting entitled “A Parisian Life”. Michael “Xiao” Chua gave the lecture which allowed us listeners to understand another side of Juan Luna. For the most part of the lecture, Xiao dwelled on the life and tragedy of this great artist. It is up to us viewers to relate these trivia to how his art has evolved. I am no art connoisseur but it is not difficult to differentiate the masterful but intense strokes exhibited in the “Spolarium” versus the softer, milder, even playful art gleaned from “A Parisian Life” .

The Parisien Life at the GSIS Museum. But not for long. Who is buying?

The Wife Paz......Tragically Shot by Juan Luna

Xiao disclosed that the painting Parisian Life is up for sale. So, who is buying? It will be recalled that the sale and purchase of this artwork was so enmeshed in controversy in recent past. It has certainly gone a long way from the Bahay Nakpil-Bautista in Quiapo to the Hongkong auction house to GSIS Museum. In whose walls would it hang next? Xiao laments the possibility of having this painting stashed away in some foreign land. Much like the Battle of Lepanto, another masterpiece of Juan Luna, which has been hanging in the Senate walls in Madrid, Spain. So with the “Death of Cleopatra” which is on display at the prestigious Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain. Anyone care to shell out a hefty sum to keep this national treasure here at home where it belongs?

Battle of Lepanto @ Madrid, Spain.