What if Juan Luna painted the images of today? In this post, neural style transfer was applied to modern images and Luna's paintings.

Juan Luna

Juan Luna was a renowned Filipino painter and sculptor during the late 19th century. He made history as a political activist during the Philippine Revolution. As an artist, he painted works which are still popular even today. One of his more seminal artworks is the Spoliarium, which currently displayed in the main gallery of National Museum in Manila.

Neural Style Transfer

Neural networks and artificial intelligence are increasingly getting popular these past few years. They were used in various applications for video games, computer vision, data science and even art. An example of a neural network used in domain of art is called neural style transfer.

Neural style transfer uses convolutional neural networks to transfer the subjective style of an image to another image. It uses neural representations to separate and recombine content and style of arbitrary images, providing a neural algorithm for the creation of artistic images (Gayes et al.).

The technique also became popular not just in academe but also in the industry. In fact, a movie incorporated this technique. Additionally, the popular mobile app Prisma might also be using a variety of this technique.

In this post, neural style transfer was used to imitate Juan Luna's paintings to be transferred into modern images. This was done using the Torch implementation by Justin Johnson. The implementation used the VGG-19 model. The images were produced with default settings and using a Macbook Pro. Each image took about 30 minutes to produce.

The Battle of Lepanto

The painting depicts a naval engagement that took place on October 1571. Using the neural style transfer, the style was transferred in an image that shows people in a demonstration.

The Death of Cleopatra

This painting won the silver medal during the 1881 National Exposition of Fine Arts in Madrid.

The style of the painting was transferred into an image of two basketball players.

Jose Rizal

This painting was a portrait of Jose Rizal (the Philippine national hero), transferred into a portrait of President Duterte (the current Philippine president).

The Blood Compact

Completed in 1886, this award winning painting depicts a ritual called sandugo to seal the friendship between Datu Sikatuna of Bohol and Miguel López de Legazpi.

Like the "The Battle of Lepanto", the style was also transferred into an image with people rallying. The style can definitely be seen in the fabrics in the painting and the Philippine flag in the image.


The Spoliarium depicts a bloody scene of dead gladiators being dragged in the Roman arena. The painting received its first gold medal from Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1884 in Madrid.

It might be the most popular among Juan Luna's paintings; the band Eraserheads even released a song entitled Spoliarium. Additionally, the ending of the 2015 film Heneral Luna mirrors it with Antonio Luna and Paco Roman dragged by soldiers.

That scene was actually the cover image of this post, not the Spoliarium itself.

Here's another shot from that scene:

This was an updated post from the MLMNL blog before.

Image Credits