“The Spoliarium”

A tue work of art can often speak for itself and releases its true artistic meaning just by looking at it. The Spoliarium,  which is often misspelled as ‘Spolarium’ truly exceeds the given definition of art. The Spoliarium, which was painted by Juan Luna, is considered one of the most internationally renowned pieces of modern Filipino art. Luna submitted his painting to the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 which received a gold medal. Later on the year 1886, it was then sold to the Diputación Provincial de Barcelona for 20,000 pesetas. The Spoliarium, which is one of the Philippines pride, now hangs in the main gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines and is the first painting to greet museum visitors.

The gigantic painting which measures four meters in height and seven meters in length is colored mostly in shades of black, red, and brown. These colors really brought out the ethnicity and realism of the portrait which helped me feel the emotions more of what’s been happening that time. The Spoliarium, which is the Coliseum’s chamber where dead bodies of gladiators are being disposed, is where Luna got his inspiration for this artwork. This depicts bodies of dead gladiators being dragged from a Roman arena which is being viewed by spectators on the left side of the painting. Gladiators (Latin: gladiator, “swordsman”, from gladius, “sword”) are armed combatants who entertains an audience in a Roman Arena Colosseum by battling with other gladiators, wild animals, or criminals. These battles are usually fights to the death of one participant which instantly determine the winner. Spectators on the other hand, are the ones who manipulate the games by observing and determining who abides the law or rules of the battle. If you take a look at the right most side of the painting, you’d find a woman whose back is turned in front of us. What the painting presents is the atrocious and vile behavior of Romans which led to countless amount of widows that are left alone. Due to the crowd’s positive feedback and reactions, gladiatorial fights aren’t even forbidden but are even more utilized.

The Spoliarium represents various emotions being portrayed especially during that period wherein people are too brutal and vicious to value the importance of life and how huge an impact it leaves to a lot of people and this is being presented by the woman in the portrait. The dragging of the body of the gladiator shows how useless they find one’s life is which is why they exploit it more often just for the entertainment of the Romans.

Alas, scenarios like this in our time today has been happening in various ways. Maltreatment and torments are still present which have been increasing in numbers; even fighting never left human desire whether we admit it of not. It has been planted within every human being that fighting is naturally present in our blood and history proves itself and the present.

No author (n.d.) Spoliarium. Juggle. Retrieved November 09, 2011. From http://www.juggle.com/spoliarium

No author (n.d.) Spoliarium. Wikipedia. Retrieved Novermber 09, 2011. From http://tl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoliarium

No author (n.d.) Spoliarium Painting by Juan Luna. Tagalog Lang. Retrieved November 09, 2011. From http://tagaloglang.com/The-Philippines/Filipino-Art/spolarium-painting-by-juan-luna.html


One thought on ““The Spoliarium”

  1. anonymous says:

    this is a very nice and helpful article, it helped me much in my report. thanks! 🙂

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