Juan Luna’s ‘Holy Grail’ Masterpiece Has Been Recovered After 132 Years

Admire it in-person at the Ayala Museum

The Ayala Museum presented an exhibition featuring Juan Luna’s long-lost masterpiece, “Hymen, oh Hyménée!” on June 12. Many collectors consider the painting the “Holy Grail of Philippine Art.”

Juan’s painting returned after 132 years after its last appearance in Paris. It takes center stage at the exhibition titled “Splendor: Juan Luna, Painter as Hero.”

The Leon Gallery exhibition is open until December 30, 2023. It showcases the exceptional talent of Juan Luna through his known works.


Juan experienced his artistic peak from 1884 to 1889. He won a gold medal at the 1884 Exposición Nacional del Bellas Artes in Madrid for his renowned painting, “Spoliarium,” currently housed at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Manila. Five years later, Juan earned a bronze medal for “Hymen, oh Hyménée!” at the Exposition Universelle of 1889.

Jaime Ponce de Leon, the founder, and director of Leon Gallery, nurtured a dream to locate the piece, leading him on a decade-long search across Europe. In 2014, Jaime fulfilled his aspiration by acquiring Juan’s painting.

After waiting in a storeroom, the artwork found its new home in 2022 through a long-term loan to the Ayala Museum.

The “Splendor: Juan Luna, Painter as Hero” exhibit is designed by scenographer Gino Gonzales. It also includes a catalog featuring insightful essays by renowned historian Ambeth R. Ocampo, acclaimed film director Martin Arnaldo, and other esteemed curators.

Banner Image Dani Sison

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