Untitled, (The Violinist)
Ca. Late 19th century
oil on canvas
18 1/2” x 15” (47 cm x 38 cm)
From the estate of Jorge Pineda, who acquired it from Don Alfonso Ongpin. Don Alfonso Ongpin is said to have acquired various artworks in turn from the estate of Joaquin Damaso Luna y Novicio, (1874 - c.1919.)
It is presumed that this unfinished oil is of Juan Luna’s older brother, Manuel Andres Luna y Novicio (1856 - 1883.) Just a year older than Juan, the brothers sailed for Madrid in 1877; Juan to enrol in Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando; Manuel to study in the Royal Conservatory of Madrid.
Manuel was admitted to the most senior year in the Conservatory because of his previous training and graduated with the degree of Professor of the Violin. He spent the next year touring France and Italy, both observing and performing.
In late 1879, he returned to Manila and immediately won acclaim as a brilliant violinist and conductor.
Intending to return to Europe in early 1883, he visited his parents in Agoo, La Union to bid farewell. Unfortunately, he was struck down by a sudden and fatal illness, perishing in July 1883.
One portrait of Manuel by Juan Luna is in the collection of the Lopez Museum. Dated 1897, it is an idealised painting of a young Manuel, created as a companion piece to the other family portraits painted by Juan Luna in Manila before his return to Spain, and more likely from his last memory of his brother in 1879.
The violin he used, a precious instrument by J.B. Vieullaume (1799-1875), was left in the possession of his brother, Joaquin. Joaquin served as governor of La Union from 1904 to 1908 and then eventually rose to become senator till 1919. Interestingly, he penned the bill that created the UP Conservatory of Music in 1908, no doubt in memory of his brother Manuel.