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Lady at the Racetrack
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Why this is a

Juan Novicio Luna was the first Filipino artist—one of the first Asians—to achieve international acclaim, winning the First Gold Medal for the monumental Spoliarium at the 1884 Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid. Earlier, he won a silver medal at the 1881 Madrid Exposition, the same year that he painted Marquesa de Monte-Olivar. As a pioneer in Philippine artistic expression, Luna laid down the cornerstone upon which the Classico-Romantic tradition in Philippine art was founded. Towards the end of the 19th century, Luna turned to the art historical movement known as Realism, depicting social inequities in stark contrast to the idealized representations of the earlier Romantic tradition. This portrait, along with La Marquesa de Monte Olivar (1881) and Woman with Manton de Manila (ca. 1880s), are some of the jewels of the museum’s painting collection. The works of Luna mirror exciting changes in belle époque Europe at the end of the 19th century. All of Europe followed the latest ideas in city planning, fashion, and the arts and artists enthusiastically embraced these riveting developments in their works. This painting captures a lady of substance watching and being watched on the racetrack. She is caught between the impulse of dressing as a coquette and as an amazon, themes taken up by numerous artists at the turn of the last century. She stands firmly in the foreground and is confidently attired in the height of fashion: a custom–made lace and satin dress accompanied by a spring jacket and hat, wide–brimmed at the front and decorated with trimmings. She is the city sophisticate and the racetrack suggests a liberal outlook in life. Luna inventively advertises this by posing her with a folded umbrella tucked behind her torso that is thrusting forward. The setting is the Hipódromo de la Zarzuela in Madrid.

History of the Object
Lady at the Racetrack was donated to the museum by the family who were its first owners, the Zobels. Their patronage to Juan Luna in the 1890s intimates the family’s pride in this artist’s achievements and their concern for his welfare in Europe. Based on this family’s business records, Trinidad Zobel could have purchased the painting from the artist himself. Notable exhibitions are Ayala Museum’s inaugural exhibit Pioneers of Philippine Art (2004) and Ayala Museum’s first international exhibition featuring its fine arts collection, Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna Amorsolo Zobel at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California (2006).

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Oil on canvas 
Width 77 cm. Length 112.5 cm.  
Creator name
Juan Novicio Luna 
Creator date
Where it was made
Spain; Madrid 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; Ca. 1880s 
Gift of Mercedes Zobel McMicking in 1992 
This photograph and information pertaining to the artwork pictured herein may be used only once and only for the purpose of the Virtual Collection of Masterpieces (VCM) project. The image may not be cropped or manipulated. Credits (title of artwork, artist, collection/owner, and Ayala Museum) should always be included when publishing this photograph. 
References: Capistrano – Baker, et al. Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zobel Transnationalism in the late 19th – 20th Century. Manila: Ayala Foundation Inc., 2006. Paras-Perez, et al. Pioneers of Philippine Art: Luna, Amorsolo, Zobel. Manila: Ayala Foundation Inc., 2004. Pilar, Santiago. Ladies Conservative and Modern: Two Repatriated Lunas, 1992. 
Ayala Museum 
Ayala Museum 
Credit line
Ayala Museum collection 



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