Juan Luna (1857-1899) was born in a town called Badoc, located in the northern Philippines. When he was four years old his family moved to Manila, where he later attended the Ateneo Municipal de Manila and earned his Bachelor’s Degree. After graduation, Luna took course work at the Academy of Fine Arts in Manila. During his studies at the academy he was influenced by the artists Lorenzo Guerrero and the Spanish artist Agustin Saez; the latter who advised him go to Spain and continue his studies. Luna took Saez’ advice and resettled in Spain, after which he enrolled at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Here he meets the painter Don Alejo Vera, who he follows to Rome. In Rome, Luna is exposed to art of the Renaissance painters who would be so influential on his own art career.
In 1881 Luna’s paintings were shown for the first time abroad at an annual exhibition in Madrid called Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes. His La Muerte de Cleopatra took a silver medal and established his artistic career. In 1884, at the same exposition, he displayed Spolarium, which won three gold medal and garnered him critical praise. During this time period Luna also completed the paintings La Batalla de Lepanto, which was commissioned by the King of Spain. He moved to Paris in 1885 and established a studio, where he painted El Pactor de Sangre. In 1887 he returned to Madrid and won high acclaim for his paintings La Batalla de Lepanto and Rendicion de Granada.
Luna married Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera late in 1886, and together they travelled to Venice and Rome before settling in Paris. In September of 1892 Luna killed his wife in a jealous fit of rage, but in the end, was acquitted by the court on grounds of temporary insanity. Shortly after his acquittal he went back to Spain and then travelled to Japan, returning to his homeland in 1884 at the outset of the Philippine Revolution. Once there, he was soon arrested on suspicion of collaborating with the Filipino rebels and imprisoned. He was acquitted in 1887 and travelled to Spain to act as a representative of the fledgling Philippine Republic. In late 1899, after he had learned of his brother’s death, Luna once again returned to the place of his birth. Not long after he reached the Philippines Juan Luna died of a heart-attack.
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