Arts and Culture

WATCH: Juan Luna's rare ‘Spoliarium’ 'boceto' recovered from Europe

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Over a century since National Artist Juan Luna’s first “boceto” (study) of his acclaimed work “Spoliarium” was lost from public view, the signed study has now been found and is now the centerpiece of an auction featuring other National Artists and Filipino art masters.

The “boceto,” according to Salcedo Auctions, which has acquired the painting from a European family that bought the art piece and has possessed it since 1884, is the conception of “the nation’s most cherished painting,” when the artist “began synthesizing years of academic training and thinking about that pathos-filled scene set in ancient Rome, when staccato swatches and frothy impastos of oil paint first came together to conjure a scene of utter grief and harrowing grandeur.”

The “boceto,” believed to be the first of only four, was signed by Luna with his name in “Baybayin,” an ancient script used by the Tagalogs. It contains elements no longer included by the artist in the final “Spoliarium,” including some characters and more light.

“Spoliarium” would go on to win First Class medal at the 1884 Expocision Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid, a historic milestone that showed Filipinos not just as equal but surpassing the artistic achievements of their Spanish colonial masters.

Luna’s work will be in auction together with other artworks and artifacts on September 22 to 23 at the Rigodon Ballroom of The Peninsula Manila. The pieces can be previewed from September 13 to 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at The Gallery, Level 3, The Peninsula Manila. — Video by Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo, editing by EC Toledo IV

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