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Juan Luna
Juan Luna in his Paris workshop
Born (1857-10-23)October 23, 1857
Badoc, Ilocos Norte, Captaincy General of the Philippines
Died December 7, 1899(1899-12-07) (aged 42)
British Hong Kong
Field Painting, drawing, sculpting
Movement Romanticism, Realism

Juan Luna y Novicio (October 23, 1857 – December 7, 1899), better known as Juan Luna was a Filipino painter, sculptor and a political activist of the Philippine Revolution during the late 19th century. He became one of the first recognized Philippine artists.

His winning the gold medal in the 1884 Madrid Exposition of Fine Arts, along with the silver win of fellow Filipino painter Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, prompted a celebration which was a major highlight in the memoirs of members of the Propaganda Movement, with the fellow Ilustrados toasting to the two painters' good health and to the brotherhood between Spain and the Philippines.

Regarded for work done in the manner of the Spanish, Italian and French artists of his time, Luna painted literary and historical scenes. His symbolic works were inspired with classical balance, and often showed figures in theatrical poses.

Early life

He was born in the town of Badoc, Ilocos Norte in the northern Philippines. In 1861, the Luna family moved to Manila and he went to Ateneo Municipal de Manila where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree. He excelled in painting and drawing, and was influenced by his brother, Manuel N. Luna, who, according to Filipino patriot José Rizal, was a better painter than Juan himself.

Luna enrolled at Escuela Nautica de Manila (now Philippine Merchant Marine Academy) and became a sailor. He took drawing lessons under the illustrious painting teacher Lorenzo Guerrero of Ermita, Manila. He also enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts (Academia de Dibujo y Pintura) in Manila. Luna then travelled to Cubao to further pursue his work.

Death

Juan Luna self portrait
Self portrait

He traveled to Hong Kong and died there on December 7, 1899 from a heart attack. His remains were buried in Hong Kong and in 1920 were removed, to be later transferred to a niche at the Crypt of the San Agustin Church in the Philippines.

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 World's Fair in the United States. Some of his paintings were destroyed by fire in World War II.

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