Juan Luna's Tampuhan

What could really be gleaned from Juan Luna’s “Tampuhan”?

We all see it: a Filipino couple by the window who seem to be at odds with one another. The two lovers are sulking or experiencing “tampo” from an argument or misunderstanding. The man, with his head resting on his right hand, is looking away or out on the street from the balcony. The woman on the other hand has her back turned on the man and is gazing at the floor—eyes forlorn, lost, and maybe disappointed at something we can’t quite tell. But we have caught them in the middle of ?????????.

But are they really giving each other the silent treatment? According to a Filipino art critic, “tampuhan” isn’t really the focus of the painting. Rather, it shows a fiesta or special occasion where there is a procession outside being watched by the man and the neighbors across the street. The red cloth hanging on ledge of the window of the neighbor’s balcony implies that an event is occurring.

Tampuhan by Juan Luna 1895, Oil on canvas