Juan Luna bust to be turned over to the National Museum

This historical artwork, believed to have been lost in the Battle of Manila in 1945, is being offered as a gesture of civic responsibility and goodwill as a gift to the nation.

Multinational Investment Bancorporation (MIB), now known as MIB Capital Corporation, is bringing one of its most prized possessions, the ‘Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio’ by the Spanish sculptor Mariano Benlliure to its permanent home in the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP).

The official turnover ceremony and formal signing of the turnover agreement will be held at the National Museum of Fine Arts (NMFA) in Manila and will be attended by officials of MIB, the NMP’s Board of Trustees, other government officials, and the principals of Salcedo Auctions which provided critical scholastic research on the art piece.

The turnover ceremony will be held on October 10, which is appropriate as this month of October is the 101st anniversary of the original donation of the bust of Luna as a gift to the Philippines from Spanish donors made on October 12, 1922, the 166th birth anniversary of Luna on October 25, and, importantly for the NMP, Museums and Galleries Month.

Since its acquisition in 1979, the bust has been kept in MIB’s vault for most of the time in order to preserve the integrity of such an important piece. Apart from being an exemplary work by the Spanish sculptor, the bust is symbolic of a turning point in our nation’s journey toward independence. Benlliure created the bust’s plaster original in 1884, the same year that his good friend won the First Class Medal at Madrid’s Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes for Spoliarium, Luna’s magnum opus that helped spark nationalist feeling that would later culminate in the revolution against Spain. 

MIB’s efforts in recovering and caring for a representation of an important Filipino artist will be recognized, along with Salcedo Auctions’ efforts to authenticate the piece, with an inscription that will accompany the bust where it will be exhibited in perpetuity in the NMFA’s Spoliarium Hall:

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PHILIPPINES, WITH DEEP GRATITUDE, ACKNOWLEDGES MULTINATIONAL INVESTMENT BANCORPORATION FOR THE RECOVERY, STEWARDSHIP, AND CARE OF THIS IMPORTANT WORK OF ART, THE BUST OF JUAN LUNA Y NOVICIO BY MARIANO BENLLIURE, WHICH WAS LOST TO THE FILIPINO PEOPLE FOR SEVENTY-EIGHT YEARS, AND SALCEDO AUCTIONS FOR THE INVALUABLE WORK IN BRINGING IT ANEW TO THE ATTENTION AND APPRECIATION OF THE PUBLIC.

THE SURVIVAL OF THIS SCULPTURE IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR, ITS JOURNEY THROUGH THE DECADES SINCE, AND ITS RETURN TO THE NATION MADE POSSIBLE BY SINCERE CIVIC-MINDEDNESS AND LOVE OF COUNTRY, IS A REMARKABLE STORY FROM WHICH ALL FILIPINOS CAN TAKE INSPIRATION.

The public will be able to view the bust immediately at the Spoliarium Hall starting Wednesday, October 11.

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