Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio

Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio
Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio | @museumxstOries

The “Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio” by Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure found its permanent home in the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) after being handed over by MIB Capital Corporation, which had safeguarded the sculpture in its vault since 1978.

The bust, a testament to the friendship between Benlliure and Luna during the latter’s time in Rome, was originally crafted in plaster in 1884. After its presentation to the Philippines in 1922, it became part of the National Library and Museum collections before being presumed lost during the Battle of Manila in 1945.

Rediscovered in MIB’s vault in 2023 by Salcedo Auctions, it was confirmed as the original piece through extensive research and subsequently returned to the National Museum. Its placement in the Spoliarium Hall alongside Luna’s renowned painting holds symbolic significance, representing a convergence of art and history and serving as a poignant reminder of the nation’s journey towards independence.

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