One of the most celebrated artworks of Juan Luna y Novicio, Death of Cleopatra was entered in the Madrid Exposition of 1881 and garnered a silver medal, the first international accolade to be received by Luna, and the highest award ever achieved by a Filipino artist in that period. At the time of its creation, Luna was enrolled in the painting school of the prestigious Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando) in Madrid. It was in fact one his professors at the art school, Alejo Vera, who had been appointed to a position at the Spanish Academy in Rome, and who had taken Luna along as his apprentice in 1878. Following the methodical rigor of the Academy which allowed students to be immersed in all of the artistic wonders that the Eternal City offered - Greek and Roman art, Renaissance and Baroque paintings - Luna like his fellow students completed works that adhered to the historical subject matter favored by the Salon competitions. With the prize garnered by Death of Cleopatra came its acquisition by the Spanish government, and thereafter inclusion in the permanent collection of the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The accolade also drew support for the artist from the Ayuntamiento de Manila, who awarded him with a commission.
The boceto, inspired by La Mort de Cléopâtre (1874) by the French artist Jean-André Rixens, is inscribed with a dedication by the artist to his father.
Accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity issued by the National Museum and signed by Jose Joya, Chairman of the Authentication panel
Collection of Dr. Eleuterio ‘Teyet’ Pascual, Makati City
Thence acquired from the above by the present owner, Makati City
Literature:Unang Pambansang Eksibisyon sa Paggunita kina Juan Luna at Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo (Metropolitan Museum of Manila, 1988), pp. 36-37
Mabuhay: The Inflight Magazine of Philippine Airlines (Philippine Airlines, July 1988 edition), pp. 22-23
Unang Pambansang Eksibisyon sa Paggunita kina Juan Luna at Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, Metropolitan Museum of Manila, 15 June - 15 August 1988