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Juan Luna’s Portrait of A Lady


The painting, is the work of Filipino painter and hero Juan, on oil panel entitled “Portrait of A Lady, is now on display at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Manila.

Portrait of A Lady (Mi Novia) on Oil Panel, 1885.

The woman in this painting was often mistaken to be the wife of Juan Luna, Paz Pardo de Tavera, who suffered “awful things” in the hands of the painter. If you compare the woman in the painting with the portrait of Paz, you will immediately know that she is not the wife of Luna.

Portrait of Paz Pardo de Tavera from the Ateneo de Manila University Archives. (

Below are three women in Luna’s paintings: the one on the right is called Mi Novia or “My Girlfriend (which became Luna’s ticket to the prestigious “Salon of Paris”), at the middle is entitled “The Parisian Life.”

If you look very intently at the photo, you would realize and notice that the women in all three paintings have striking similarities. They’re all Caucasian, have an oval face and beautiful eyes. This realization would lead us to a theory that the women in all these paintings—including the one mistaken as a portrait of Juan Luna’s wife—are one and the same.

In Howie Severino’s documentary entitled “Savage: Juan Luna Sa Paris,” the woman was identified as Angela Duche, a French woman who served as Luna’s model.

In his notebooks, Luna called this lady as his number 1 model, “supremely distinguished looking, pinkish white skin, body and shape of beautiful proportions, model No. 1.”

Whether Luna and Duche had a deeper relationship is something that has not yet been fully explored by any historian. Thus, we are not certain if could find the answers, or maybe there are no answers at all.

However, one thing is sure: there’s more to Juan Luna’s life and works than meets the eye.

Sources: I-Witness: “Savage: Juan Luna Sa Paris”. GMA Public Affairs, 2016.


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