Quest ends as long-lost sculpture returns to Philippine museum
Quest ends as long-lost sculpture returns to Philippine museum
Quest ends as long-lost sculpture returns to Philippine museum
by Ada Pelonia11 October 2023
Photo courtesy: National Museum of the Philippines

The quest for this century-old treasure ends as a turnover event marks its return after 78 years.

The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) held a turnover event for the bronze Bust of Juan Luna y Novicio by Mariano Benlliure from the MIB Capital Corporation on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

According to NMP, the bust was a gift to the Philippine Government on October 12, 1922.

It belonged to the National Museum Collection as stated in the 1938 Catalog of Paintings, Sculptures, and Historical Objects by the National Library.

“Unfortunately, the bust, along with other priceless artifacts and artworks, was lost to the intense shelling of the Old Legislative Building which served as a temporary repository for such items during World War II,” NMP said in a statement.

“The whereabouts of the bust remained a mystery until this year when it appeared in an auction lot from the Salcedo Auctions’ ‘The Well Appointed Life’ last September,” it added.

NMP stated that it wrote a prompt letter to Salcedo Auctions to pause its sale and discuss further details. Both Salcedo Auctions and then-keepers of the bust MIB Capital Corporation agreed to the request and withdrew the bronze bust from auction.

“My hope is that all Filipinos will be able to take in their hearts this act of goodwill as well as the fact that we are writing, at this moment, the happiest possible ending to the 78-year-long story of the loss to the nation of this fine effigy of arguably the greatest Filipino painter,” NMP Director-General Jeremy Barns said.

For those who wish to see it, the Bust of Juan Luna by Mariano Benlliure will be available for public viewing today, October 11, at the Spoliarium Hall, 2/F, National Museum of Fine Arts.

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