Such distinguished Filipinos. Estoy. Muy. Orgullosa! I. Am. Very. Proud. As were the Filipinos then based in Madrid who celebrated these Masters’ victories as Gold and Silver Medalists in the 1884 Madrid Arts Exposition. For Juan Luna, his Spoliarium earned him a Gold Medal. Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo earned his Silver for his “Las Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho” (The Christian Virgins Exposed to the Populace), which showed a bunch of boorish looking males mocking semi-naked female slaves. A copy of this painting now hangs at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. The original was destroyed in a fire at the University of Valladolid in Spain. A pity.
I visited the National Art Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines on separate occasions. Just a couple of days apart. I had the rare chance to stand in the middle of the Hall of Masters all by my lonesome self. And to get really close to Luna’s Spoliarium. My iPhone came in handy, though the shots could be better. Por supuesto! But ain’t complaining. I love how I can walk around unburdened by a camera slung around my neck.
They had more restrictions at the Metropolitan Museum though. No photography allowed. Not even if you promise not to use flash. (Photo shown here was sourced from the Net. thank you, Google) Same restrictions apply in the Ayala Museum where a guard gently reminded me of such restrictions when I whipped out my iPhone in front of an Edades painting. I’m not complaining but it behooves me why different rules apply. In the case of Hidalgo’s Christian Virgins, I wasn’t even allowed to get within a couple of meters from the copy of this masterpiece. Yes, a copy. Yet, I was allowed to snap close-up shots of the original Spoliarium by Luna.
These 2 obra maestros by Luna and Hidalgo bagged Gold and Silver Medals in the 1884 Madrid Arts Exposition. A victory celebrated by Filipino patriots then based in Madrid, to include our very own Dr. Jose Rizal. The venue for the victory banquet still stands today in Madrid, in Echegarray Street just a few strolls from Puerta del Sol. In this banquet, our national hero — who’s said not to have eaten the whole day for lack of funds — gave more than a toast to honor Luna and Hidalgo. More like a speech. A speech so full of bravado and spunk, where Rizal frontally attacked the religious establishment. Perhaps a preview of the Padre Damasos and Padre Silvas in his Noli Me Tangere. If you ever get to Madrid, do check out Hotel Ingles and “stand proud” as forefathers did. And while you’re there, be sure to visit Rizal’s other favorite haunts.
If you haven’t been following my Madrid Blog Series, let me leave you with this excerpt from Rizal’s impromptu speech at the Hotel Ingles victory banquet. My man. Truly, Rizal’s Filipino pride shone through.
“Luna and Hidalgo are as much Spanish glories as they are Filipino. Just as they were born in the Philippines, they could have been born in Spain, because genius has no country, genius blossoms everywhere, genius is like the light, the air, it is the heritage of all”