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Luis Ricardo Falero (Spanish, 1851-1896)
signed and dated 'FALERO/89' (incised upper right)
oil on canvas
73.7 x 40.6cm (29 x 16in).
Luis Ricardo Falero, Duke of Labranzano, led a short, but colourful life. Born in Toledo in 1851, he joined the Spanish navy, but much to his parent's disappointment he resigned his commission and, determined to pursue his love of the arts, set out for Paris. Travelling the 1300 kilometres by foot, Falero paid for his food and lodging en route by drawing portraits in crayon. On his arrival in Paris, he studied chemistry, mechanical engineering and art. However, laboratory experiments proved too dangerous so he decided to concentrate on a career as an artist, enrolling at the studio of the portrait painter and Orientalist Gabriel Ferrier.
Fascinated by astronomy, he combined his love of science and art with a celebration of the female nude in a series of works, the most famous of which The Double Star caused a sensation when shown at the Salon in 1881.
Falero continued to produce highly finished mythological and dreamlike pictures, and works inspired by classical antiquity reflecting contemporary interest in Egypt and the ancient world.
By 1889, the year the present lot was painted, Falero had moved to London and was living at 100 Fellows Road, north of Regent's Park; he continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy until 1893.
One of the models that the artist used was Maud Harvey, who was also his housemaid; however she fell pregnant and on hearing of her condition, Falero dismissed her. Maud then sued him for paternity, claiming that he had seduced her when she was seventeen. The case found in her favour and Falero was ordered to pay her five shillings per week in support of their child.
Whether this scandal contributed to his early death is unknown, but he died at University College Hospital in 1896 aged 45.