Born in the town of Badoc, IlocosNorte in the northern Philippines, JuanLuna was the third among the sevenchildren of Don Joaquin Luna de SanPedro y Posadas and Doña LaureanaNovicio y Ancheta. In 1861, the Luna family movedto Manila and he went to AteneoMunicipal de Manila where he obtainedhis Bachelor of Arts degree.
Luna enrolled at Escuela Nautica deManila (now Philippine Merchant MarineAcademy). He took drawing lessons under theillustrious painting teacher LorenzoGuerrero of Ermita, Manila. He also enrolled in the Academy of FineArts (Academia de Dibujo y Pintura) in Manilawhere he was influenced and taught how todraw by the Spanish artist Agustin Saez.Unfortunately, Lunas vigorous brush strokesdispleased his teacher and Luna wasdischarged from the Academy. studies.
Juan entered the Escuela deBellas Artes de San Fernandouela,where he befriended the painterDon Alejo Vera. Luna wasdiscontented with the style ofteaching in school and decided thatit would be much better to workwith Vera.
O It was in 1878 when his artistic talents was established with the opening of the first art exposition in Madrid which was called the Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Demonstration of Beautiful Arts). From then on, Luna became engrossed in painting and produced a collection of paintings that he exhibited in the 1881 Exposition.
His La Muerte de Cleopatra (TheDeath of Cleopatra) won him a silver medaland came in second place. Lunas growingreputation as an artist led toapensionado (pension) scholarship at 600pesos annually through the Ayuntamiento ofManila. The condition was that he was obligedto develop a painting which captured theessence of Philippine history which wouldthen become the Ayuntamientos property.
In 1883 Luna started the paintingdemanded of him by the Ayuntamiento.In May 1884, he shipped the largecanvas of the Spoliarium to Madrid forthe years Exposición Nacional de BellasArtes. He was the first recipient of thethree gold medals awarded in theexhibition and Luna gained recognitionamong the connoisseurs and artcritics present.
O On June 25, 1884, Filipino and Spanish nobles organized an event celebrating Lunas win in the exhibition. That evening, Rizal prepared a speech for his friend, addressing the two significant things of his art work, which included the glorification of genius and the grandeur of his artistic skills.
Luna developed a friendlyrelationship with the King ofSpain and was later commissioned bythe Spanish Senate to paint a largecanvas which was called the La Batallade Lepanto (The Battle of Lepanto).He moved to Paris in 1885 where heopened his own studio and befriendedHidalgo.
OA year after, he finished thepiece El Pacto de Sangre (The BloodCompact) in accordance with theagreement he had with theAyuntamiento of Manila. Depicted inthis piece was the blood compactceremony between the DatuSikatuna , one of the lords in Boholisland, and the Spanish conquistadorMiguel López de Legazpi.
It is now displayed inthe Malacañan Palace. He also senttwo other paintings in addition to theone required; the second canvas sentto Manila was a portrait of López deLegazpi reconstructed by Luna fromhis recollection of a similar portraithe saw in the hall of the Cabildo, andthe third was of Governor-generalRamón Blanco y Erenas.
In 1887, Luna once againtraveled back to Spain to enterin that years Exposition two ofhis pieces, the La Batalla deLepanto and Rendición deGranada (Surrender ofGranada),
O He celebrated his triumph with his friends in Madrid with Graciano López-Jaena delivered Luna a congratulatory speech. Lunas paintings are generally described asbeing vigorous and dramatic. With its elements of Romanticism, his style shows the influence of Delacroix, Rembrandt, and Daumier.
On December 8, 1886, Lunamarried Maria de la Paz Pardo deTavera, a sister of his friend Felixand Trinidad Pardo de Tavera. Thecouple traveled to Venice and Romeand settled in Paris. They had oneson, whom they named Andrés, anda daughter nicknamed Bibi who diedin infancy. Luna was fond ofpainting his wife.
O However, the jealous Luna frequently accused Paz of having an affair with a certain Monsieur Dussaq. Finally in a fit of jealousy, he killed his wife and mother-in-law and wounded his brother-in-law, Felix, on September 23, 1892. He was arrested and murder charges were filed against him.
Luna was acquitted ofcharges on February 8, 1893,on grounds of temporaryinsanity; the "unwritten law" atthe time forgave men forkilling unfaithful wives.
O He was ordered to pay the Pardo de Taveras a sum of one thousand six hundred fifty one francs and eighty three cents, and an additional twenty five francs for postage, in addition to the interest of damages. Five days later, Luna went to Madrid with his brother, Antonio Luna, and his son, Andrés
In 1891 Luna moved back to thePhilippines and traveled to Japan in 1896,returning during the Philippine Revolution ofthe Cry of Balintawak. Unfortunately, onSeptember 16, 1896, he and hisbrother Antonio Luna were arrested by Spanishauthorities for being involved withthe Katipunan rebel army. Despite his imprisonment, Luna was stillable to produce a work of art which he gave toa visiting priest. He was pardoned by theSpanish courts on May 27, 1897 and wasreleased from prison and he traveled back toSpain.
In 1898, he was appointed by theexecutive board of the Philippinerevolutionary government as a member ofthe Paris delegation which was working forthe diplomatic recognition ofthe República Filipina (Philippine Republic).In 1899, upon the signing of the Treaty ofParis (1898), Luna was named a member ofthe delegation to Washington, D.C. topress for the recognition of the Philippinegovernment.
He traveled back to the Philippines inDecember 1899 upon hearing of themurder of his brother Antonio bythe Kawit Battalion in Cabanatuan. OnDecember 7, 1899, Luna suffered a heartattack and died there. His remains wereburied in Hong Kong and in 1920 wereexhumed and kept in Andrés Lunas house,to be later transferred to a niche at theCrypt of the San Agustin Church in thePhilippines.
O Five years later, Juan would be reinstated as a world renowned artist and Peuple et Rois, his last major work, was acclaimed the best entry to the Saint Louis Worlds Fair in the United States. Unfortunately some of his paintings were destroyed by fire in World War II.
La Muerte de Cleopatra (The Death ofCleopatra)