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Juan Luna y Novicio (October 23, 1857 — December 7, 1899) was an Ilocano Filipino painter, sculptor and a political activist of thePhilippine 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 and French academies of his time, Luna painted literary and historical scenes, some with an underscore of political commentary. His allegorical works were inspired with classical balance, and often showed figures in theatrical poses.
Juan Luna, self portrait.
Born in the town of Badoc, Ilocos Norte in the northern Philippines, Juan Luna was the third among the seven children of Don Joaquin Luna de San Pedro y Posadas and Doña Laureana Novicio y Ancheta. In 1861, the Luna family moved to Manila and he went to Ateneo Municipal de Manila where he obtained hisBachelor of Arts degree. He excelled in painting and drawing, and was influenced by his brother, Manuel 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 where he was influenced and taught how to draw by the Spanish artist Agustin Saez. Unfortunately, Luna's vigorous brush strokes displeased his teacher and Luna was discharged from the Academy. However, Guerrero was impressed by his skill and urged Luna to travel to Spain to further pursue his studies.