In Manila, a Once-Lost Masterpiece Is Back on Public View

MANILA — On view through December 30, 2023, at the Ayala Museum, the exhibition Splendor: Juan Luna, Painter as Hero celebrates the rediscovery of Luna’s virtuoso depiction of a Roman wedding procession, “Hymen, oh Hyménée!” Unveiled at the museum on June 9, the canvas is on public display for the first time since it won a bronze medal in the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition. Spoken of reverently as the lost “holy grail” of Philippine paintings, it was previously known through photos, preparatory sketches, and a colored lithograph. It was rediscovered in a European collection in 2014 — in a “well-appointed room with dark velvet curtains” — by Jaime Ponce de Leon, an art collector and proprietor of Manila’s León Gallery auction house; it has since spent years in a crate, waiting for the right moment to be revealed. 

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