Juan Luna letter from prison in 'Important Philippine Art' auction

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 08 2018 11:58 AM | Updated as of Nov 07 2018 03:55 PM

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MANILA - The only known letter from prison by revolutionary and painter Juan Luna will be sold this weekend alongside the works of other Filipino masters, with the auctioneer saying the pieces could be worth so much more than their asking price.

The "Important Philippine Art" auction on Saturday features works by the masters, Fernando Amorsolo, Carlos "Botong" Francisco, Arturo Luz, Cesar Legaspi and Bencab as well as rising artist Mark Justiniani.

But the standouts are Luna's letters, including one he wrote to overseas affairs subsecretary Ezequiel Ordoñez from the Mazas Prison in Paris, where he stood trial for the murder of his wife and mother-in-law.

Luna is best known for his paintings, "Spoliarium," "Parisian Life" and "España y Filipinas" (Spain and the Philippines).

In the letter, written in Spanish and dated December 9, 1892, Luna recounted his "disastrous year" to his friend, Ordoñez, and how he yearned to return to the Philippines to pick up after his "destroyed family."

A letter from prison by Filipino revolutionary and painter Juan Luna is up for bids at Salcedo Auctions. Image from Salcedo Auctions website.
A letter from prison by Filipino revolutionary and painter Juan Luna is up for bids at Salcedo Auctions. Image from Salcedo Auctions website.

A translation of the letter was provided by the Salcedo Auctions website.

Buying art should be viewed as "something that touches you emotionally or touches you cerebrally more than the aspect of making money," Salcedo Auctions director Richie Lerma told ANC.

"I’ve always said that when it comes to investing in art, the investment is in the self. It's something that makes you happy, its something that keeps you thinking. It’s something that takes you back in certain moment in time," Lerma said.

One piece by National Artist H.R. Ocampo sold for P700,000 and was resold for P4.3 million, he said.

"That really takes into account the immense interest and growth in the value of important Filipino artworks," he said.