Tag Archive: Spoliarium

Juan Luna’s obra maestra, the SPOLIARIUM , greets you as soon as you step into the Hall of Masters in the National Art Gallery. I have visited it quite a few times, appreciating how this painting brought and still bring so much pride to us Filipinos.

Browsing through my favorite Facebook pages, I was struck to find this photo of how the obra maestra looked in 1958. The National Museum offers this information and I do not wish to add nor subtract from it:


“Spoliarium (1958): Photo shows the Juan Luna masterpiece “Spoliarium” on display at the lobby of the Department of Foreign Affairs building on Padre Faura St. (now the Department of Justice building) where it was mounted on a wooden frame after it was shipped to the Philippines as a gift by the Franco Government in Spain that year. Unfortunately, because of its size, the painting was sliced into three pieces before it was crated and brought to the country. (The slices in the painting can be seen here) The Spoliarium was later restored by artist Antonio Dumlao before it was unveiled again in 1962. The painting remained at the DFA before it was transferred to the National Museum where it can be seen today.



The Spoliarium was entry by Luna to the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid, where it garnered the first gold medal (out of three). In 1886, it was sold to the Diputación Provincial de Barcelona for 20,000 pesetas. It measures 4.22 meters x 7.675 meters, and considered as the largest painting in the Philippines. (Thank you, Vic Torres, for the photo and the annotation.)”




Sourced from the Net

(Source: National Art Gallery)



It almost breaks your heart to see even just a photo of a visibly “split up” SPOLIARIUM. Thanks to Antonio Dumlao, we are now privileged to view this obra maestra in all its glory. But pray tell, who is ANTONIO DUMLAO?




Spoliarium at the Hall of Masters. National Art Gallery. Manila



More Internet surfing and more heartbreaks which can only be appeased by my sharing these with you.



First off, Antonio Dumlao was an accomplished artist. He was commissioned to give a “facelift” to the Juan Luna obra maestra in 1960 despite the fact that he was never trained in restoration work. In fact, he never had any formal education in the arts. He quit the same year he enrolled to study fine arts in the University of the Philippines. With or without formal education, Dumlao was a gifted artist. He was a muralist, a portrait canvas artist, a sculptor and a stained glass innovator. For many years, he served as Art Director of San Miguel Corporation and developed a friendship with his top art patron, Don Andres Soriano, through whom he met Don Manuel Elizalde, another art patron.




Antonio Dumlao. (Photo sourced from the Net)

(Photo sourced from the Net)



DUMLAO was friends with Fernando Amorsolo, a contemporary, who has great admiration and respect for his work. Ironically, not much is known about DUMLAO. Nor about his deep friendship with his childhood friend from Intramuros days, Vicente Manansala. When Dumlao had a stroke in 1979, his daughter recounted how “Mang Enteng” flew to his father’s bedside. Genuine friends, indeed. Two years after that visit, Manansala had a heart attack and died before Dumlao, who died in 1983.




Ina ng Lahi. Photo sourced from the Net.

(Sourced from the Net: “Ina Ng Lahi”. UP Vargas Museum. Filipiniana Collection.)




Not just a painter or muralist. He works on stained glass too!
Photo Sourced from the Net.

(Sourced from the Net: “Sarimanok” Stained Glass. Far eastern University)



Imagine how this gifted muralist restored Luna’s Spoliarium! Makes me wonder how much of the mural is Luna’s and how much was Dumlao’s. I know, that’s NOT fair to say. Forgive this non-artist, layman’s random thought. One thing’s for sure though. This Luna fan is now officially a Dumlao fan too. His other stained glass works are still in Malacañang and in the Mosque in Quiapo. Now, this requires a visit! Join me?


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”