Juan, Andres and Antonio Luna in Paris; Juan's letter to son, Andres
Culture Spotlight

This revealing Christmas letter of Juan Luna to son Andres will be auctioned this month

The letter comes with two lovingly drawn sketches by the famous painter, and gives a rare glimpse of the father-son relationship 
ANCX Staff | Nov 20 2020

We know from history records that Filipino master painter Juan Luna married Paz Pardo de Tavera two years after winning the gold medal for the Spoliarium. Their romance bore a son named Andres Luna de San Pedro, and a daughter named Maria, who unfortunately died at age three. Andres would spend his childhood with his parents in Paris.

Juan and Paz’s relationship was marred by a tumultuous event that cost the lives of Paz and her mother. The two women were said to have been shot by the Filipino painter on September 22, 1892, because Paz had allegedly cheated on him. The painter was eventually acquitted for it by a French court on the grounds that it was a crime of passion. Andres, at age six, left Paris with his dad on February 1893.

Unknown to many, Andres, or “Luling,” had maintained close relations with his father despite having shared a traumatic past. This can be gleaned from a charming letter Juan Luna wrote to his 11-year-old son dated December 25, 1898. The older Luna was then en route to San Francisco, then later to Honolulu.

Lot 85, "Very Rare Juan, Antonio and Andres Luna Private Papers," includes this letter of Juan Luna to his son, Andres.

In the said letter, Juan acknowledged receipt of his son’s letter from Manila and noted that he’s pleased to know Andres is in good health and that his knowledge of the English language is improving. “This is very necessary in men, as it is knowing other languages, so you should,” Juan wrote. He also advised him to never quit practicing French and to always speak in this language with his uncle Antonio.

The letter is punctuated with two drawings. One is a cap “in blue cloth with white trim,” which is the design of the caps—120 of them—that he promised to send for the children’s battalion that Andres is organizing. The father said he’s taking care of his orders for rifles, sabers, a cornet and drum.

The second drawing is a full uniform for a child-soldier, consisting of “a white shirt, dark indigo blue trousers with a stripe down the side in either white or red; and the dark blue cap trimmed in white.”

The father also admonished his son to watch his behavior towards elders—to be obedient and to not criticize their behavior, “which is a very ugly vice.”

Antonio Luna, seated, second from left, at the Sala de Armas, Manila, 1894

 The letter came amid an eventful moment in our history—the arrival of the Americans in Philippine shores and the signing of the Treaty of Paris. After the Philippine Revolution began in August of 1896, the brothers Luna would be thrown into jail the following month. They would be released through the intervention of Juan Luna’s patroness, the Queen-Regent Maria Cristina.

This private missive of the father to his son—along with an original subscription receipt of the revolutionary newspaper La Independencia; a print advertisement for the firm of Andres Luna de San Pedro, Juan F. Nakpil, and Jose G. Cortes; a photo copy of the seven-page inventory and appraisal of the property of Grace Luna de San Pedro from the Estate of Andres Luna de San Pedro, which includes the Juan Luna art works; and various private documents relating to the marriage of Andres to Grace Luna—are among the historical items being offered for auction at the León Gallery Kingly Treasures Auction 2020.

 

The LEÓN GALLERY KINGLY TREASURES AUCTION 2020 is the third major alliance between León Gallery, the country’s most trusted auction house, and ANCX.ph, the urban man’s guide to style and culture, the online lifestyle site of ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel.

View the LEON GALLERY KINGLY TREASURES AUCTION 2020 online catalog as well as register to bid now at www.leon-gallery.com. For inquiries, call (02) 8856-2781 or send an email at info@leon-gallery.com.