FFE Magazine

Valentines Series: Juan Luna’s Love Story

Have you ever wondered who artist-hero Juan Luna’s inspiration was when he painted his amazing works of art? Juan Luna had been a prominent figure in Jose Rizal’s days in Europe; in fact, Rizal had posed for some of his paintings.

 

But Rizal and the Philippines aren’t his only inspirations. There was also a woman in Luna’s life… a mysterious woman whom history often forgets to mention because of the grim story behind her and Juan Luna’s love story.

 

Her name was Paz Pardo de Tavera, the sister of his close friends Felix and Trinidad.

 

Rich girl, poor guy

 

The Pardo de Taveras were a very wealthy family of Spanish descent in Manila. In 1875 the Pardo de Taveras, who had been adopted by their uncle, were invited to live in Paris where they were to continue their studies. Two years later, Luna travelled to Spain to study painting. It was in Europe that Paz and Luna met as the Pardo de Tavera matriarch opened her doors to the ilustrado or intellectuals, which included the likes of Rizal, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and Graciano Lopez Jaena.

 

A young Luna (extreme left) with friends and fellow ilustrados

A young Luna (extreme left) with friends and fellow ilustrados

 

At this point Luna, who was from a simple family, excelled in his studies and soon won awards for his paintings. In 1884, his masterpiece ‘Spoliarium’ won three awards in the prominent National Fine Arts Exposition of Madrid. This turned Luna into an instant celebrity, with Paz’s brother calling him the group’s ‘shining star.’

 

Juan Luna in 1884

Juan Luna in 1884

 

Of course, his accomplishments got Paz’s attention. Although at first Paz’s mother Doña Juliana Gorricho did not like the idea of an indio marrying her unica hija, she was convinced by Luna’s innate talent in the arts and his rise to fame as an artist. The emboldened Luna then started courting Paz, a tall, slim, fair woman in her early-20s, a refined daughter of a prominent family.

 

After proving himself worthy of her daughter, Doña Juliana finally blessed the two and gave them her approval. On 8 December 1886, the two married at a court and spent their honeymoon in Venice and Rome, Italy then settled back in Paris to live a life as man and wife.

 

Paz (standing, second from right), her mother Juliana (centre) and her son Andres Luna (centre) take a photo with the ilustrados Rizal (second from left) and Resurreccion Hidalgo (third from left)

Paz (standing, second from right), her mother Juliana (centre) and her son Andres Luna (centre) take a photo with the ilustrados Rizal (second from left) and Resurreccion Hidalgo (third from left)

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