Juan Luna’s boceto of the Spoliarium surfaces. But is it real?

PIONEERING THE PH AUCTION SCENE. Richie Lerma is a former curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery. Together with his wife, Karen, they put up Salcedo Auctions in 2010. Photo via rappler.com

By Alecs Ongcal/rappler.com – A smaller version of the country’s largest painting and national treasure, the Spoliarium by Juan Luna, surfaced during a private presentation in Makati City on Thursday, August 30.

The boceto (a sketch or study that guides an artist in producing a final work), dated a year before the finished Spoliarium won the First Class Medal at the 1884 Expocision Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid, will be auction off later this month.

Question is, is it real?

Salcedo Auctions director Richie Lerma believes so and attributes the boceto as the first and “original” version of the oil and canvass art piece.

“In my view this is the original Spoliarium because it is the earliest version… The evidence is there and no one has yet showed any evidence to disprove that the boceto is not authentic. For all intent and purposes, based on material and historical evidence, provenance, photographs, literature, newspapers, all say that this is the long lost boceto of Juan Luna y Novicio,” Lerma told media during the presentation Q&A.

The boceto was introduced to Salcedo Auctions through email by a private collector based in Europe.

According to Lerma, the attached detailed photographs of the art piece revealed a more impressionistic, less figurative version compared to the finished Spoliarium.

“In the beginning I doubted it but there were signs in the painting that led me to act further.” Lerma said.

One of the signs Lerma was referring to is the signature area on the bottom right hand corner, convincing him to meet the owner and to investigate further.

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