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Philippine Heroes - Juan Luna y Novicio (1857 - 1899)

Juan Luna y Novicio - Philippine HeroJuan Luna y Novicio is a painter who was born on October 23, 1857 in Badoc, llocos Norte. His father was Joaquin Luna de San Pedro y Posada while his mother was Laureana Novicio y Ancheta. Juan had three brothers: Manuel, a violin virtuoso; Jose, a doctor; Joaquin, a governor, congressman and senator; and Antonio, writer and general, of the Philippine Revolutionary Army. Juan married Paz Pardo de Tavera y Gorricho.

Juan finished high school at Ateneo de Manila and at Escuela Nautica where at age 17 he received the Pilot of The High Seas Third Class certificate. He also took landscape painting at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura.

Juan painted Barrio Al Lado Del Rio (Village by the River) and Vista Un Barrio Con Kapok (Barrio Scene with Kapok Trees) in 1877. He studied at Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid where he was an outstanding student. He signed up as an apprentice of Alejo Vera, a professor of the same school.

He completed the miniature of his Autoretrato A Edad 22 (Self Portrait at 22) made of charcoal and Dafnis y Chloe (Daphne and Chloe). He was awarded a silver palette from Centra Artistico Literario de Manila in the latter.

He finished some of his masterpieces while in Rome in 1884. Among them were La Bella Feliz y LaEsclava Ciega (The Happy Beauty and the Blind Slave) and La Muerte de Cleopatra (The Death of Cleopatra) which won a silver medal in the Madrid Art Exposition of 1381.

It was 1884 when his Spoliarium won the gold medal in the Madrid Art Exposition. Dr. Jose Rizal considered Spoliarium an exact illustration of how the Spaniards abused the Filipinos.

In 1885, he painted El Pacto de Sangre (Blood Compact) and Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. In 1886, his Damas Romanes (Roman Ladies) received recognition at the Munich Salon. Mestizo en su Tucador (Mestizo Lady at Her Dresser) also won the same recognition in Exposicion General de las Filipinas in 1887.


In November 1887, Queen Regent Maria Cristina unveiled the paintings of Luna and Pradilla at the Madrid Senate. Later, in 1892 Juan painted Peuple at Rois (People and Kings), which he would enter at the Chicago Universal Exposition.

Juan came back to the Philippines in May of 1894 with his brother Antonio.

The Spanish constabulary arrested the brothers Juan and Antonio. They accused them of conspiring with the Katipuneros. They were jailed at Fort Santiago but only he was released.

He returned to Spain to work on Antonio's freedom. He was still in Spain when he learned that the Spaniards were no longer in control of the Philippines.

With the setting up of the Republic of the Philippines, he was appointed diplomatic agent in the Hongkong Junta. He became part of the Philippine diplomatic missions in Paris and United States. He was coming back home when Juan contracted a disease and die in Hong Kong on December 7, 1899.


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