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Hymen, oh Hyménée’

In the splendor of their marriage, artist Juan Luna captures the essence of love on canvas, unaware of the darkness that will soon eclipse their lives.

By Karina ThyraPublished 10 months ago 5 min read
Hymen, oh Hyménée! by Juan Luna. Photo: Ayala Museum

The lost painting, Hymen, oh Hyménée! Also known as Boda Romana, had finally resurfaced, ending its long absence from the art world. Once exhibited at the Paris World Fair of 1889, it remained hidden until its rediscovery in 2023. Back then, it had only secured a bronze medal, but its true value lay in the love that fueled its creation.

And so, as the news of Boda Romana's rediscovery spread through the art world like wildfire, it awakened a longing within the hearts of those who yearned to behold its captivating beauty once more. Collectors and enthusiasts alike eagerly awaited the opportunity to lay their eyes upon this lost masterpiece, for they sensed that its true value transcended mere accolades and awards.

Meanwhile, in the enchanting city of Venice, where romance permeated the air and history whispered through the winding canals, Juan Luna and Paz Pardo de Tavera embarked on their new journey as husband and wife. It was a union that radiated joy and promise, their hearts entwined in a tapestry woven with dreams and aspirations.

Just days after their wedding, Juan Luna unfolded his canvas. He set up his easel in a sunlit corner of their Venetian abode, surrounded by the tantalizing scent of oil paints and the promise of artistic creation. It was a moment brimming with divine inspiration, accompanied by the radiant presence of his muse, Paz. Dearest Paz, ever the muse, would steal glances at her husband from across the room, observing the intensity with which he approached his craft. She marveled at the way he meticulously mixed colors, his brushstrokes caressing the canvas with a tenderness that mirrored their love. Her heart swelled with pride, knowing that she had played a small part in fueling the fire that burned within him. Juan often called upon her to pose, claiming that her very essence sparked his creativity. To him, Paz embodied brilliance, kindness, generosity, and unparalleled beauty. Guided by these sentiments, he poured his soul into the painting, working fervently. Such intensity could only be attributed to a mind either touched by divine inspiration or teetering on the precipice of madness—for those realms often intertwine.

Luna flourished in the early days of his marriage, and as he approached the completion of the painting almost a year after its inception, his fervor intensified during the idyllic honeymoon spent with Paz. With each passing day, the artwork inched closer to its final form. Juan spoke of showcasing it at the esteemed Paris Exhibition, and Paz wholeheartedly supported his ambition. Should no buyer come forward, he vowed to preserve it as a cherished gift for his beloved bride. Yet, Paz reassured him that admirers would flock to claim this marvel, for she unwaveringly believed in his extraordinary talent. Life with Juan was a tapestry of passion and intense delights. Their connection had deep roots, forged long before they exchanged vows in the presence of God. Juan's words reverberated with conviction as he declared his intention to safeguard the painting, considering it the zenith of his artistic achievements—a masterpiece untainted by violence or injustice. Love, and love alone, radiated from its very core. Little did he know that love, in its all-consuming power, could unleash the darkest facets of the human spirit. Love, as it turned out, had the potential to transform even the gentlest souls into monsters. He would learn of that… someday.

Finally, the painting was complete. Every brushstroke had been meticulously placed, and Juan Luna marveled at the masterpiece before him. It was a testament to their love, a symbol of the most radiant period in his life. The vibrant colors and intricate details encapsulated the joy he felt in his marriage to Paz. He couldn't help but hope that their union would surpass the splendor captured in Boda Romana.

With a wistful smile, Juan acknowledged that another project had come to fruition. He could now fully revel in married life and embrace the happiness that Paz brought into his world. He dreamed of a future filled with laughter, tenderness, and the pitter-patter of little feet. In his heart, he knew that one day Boda Romana might be lost and forgotten, overshadowed by the passage of time. However, for now, it stood as a testament to their love—a beacon of beauty in a tumultuous world.

As the sun began to set over Venice, casting a warm glow across the room, Juan gently placed his brushes aside. He approached the bed where Paz lay, her peaceful countenance illuminated by the fading daylight. Tenderly, he kissed her cheek, feeling a surge of gratitude for the love they shared. Paz stirred, her eyes fluttering open, and she gazed at him with affectionate devotion. Their whispered words of love intertwined in the air, a promise to cherish each other until the end of days.

In that fleeting moment, Juan Luna reveled in the tranquility and contentment that enveloped him. He was unaware of the tempest that awaited him in the distant future, the darkness that would cast a shadow over his once-idyllic existence. Unbeknownst to him, there would come a time when overwhelming rage and jealousy would consume him, leading him to commit unspeakable acts of violence against his beloved Paz and his mother-in-law, Juliana. There would be a day when he would face the judgment of both the court and God for the lives he had taken. And amidst all the turmoil, Boda Romana would be lost and forgotten, lying dormant for over a century until its eventual rediscovery.

But for now, in this fleeting moment of bliss, Juan Luna lay beside his Paz, their bodies drawing closer together. They embraced the calmness that art and love could provide, their hearts intertwined in a bond that transcended the boundaries of time and space. And as the world outside faded into darkness, they surrendered themselves to the peaceful embrace of slumber, unaware of the tumultuous journey that lay ahead.

JourneyInspirationPaintingHistoryFine ArtFictionExhibition

About the Creator

Karina Thyra

Fangirl of sorts.

Twitter: @ArianaGsparks

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  • Aubrey Anne Edaniol10 months ago

    The article was hauntingly beautiful in narrating the paradoxical terrifying and terrible aspects of Juan's love for Paz. I was really creeped out about the force called love could do to a person. The obra which was supposed to symbolize their extraordinary love became a haunting symbol for what happens in the dark side of this extraordinary love. I loooooovvvveeeee this!

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