Thursday, May 14, 2015

Alberto Orrego Luco

Sunset in Venice (Atardecer en Venecia)
oil on canvas
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Chile
other detail unknown

Alberto Orrego Luco (1854-1931) was a Chilean Impressionist landscape painter and diplomat. He was born to a family of wealthy farmers. His younger brother also became a diplomat and was a popular novelist, among other achievements. In 1873, with the support of his mother, he went to Europe. Originally, it was intended that he would study medicine at the Sorbonne, but he chose to pursue painting instead. His work was recognized by the Chilean government and he was granted a stipend that enabled him to participate in the Salon of 1877 and travel to Italy, where he remained for almost ten years, painting landscapes and cityscapes. He got married there in 1883 and, five years later, was appointed consul in Venice. He returned to Chile in 1890 then, two years later, accepted an appointment as consul in Seville. In 1897, he was offered the position of Consul General for Italy, with his headquarters in Genoa.

By 1914, he was once again living in Rome. Despite the problems caused by World War I, he wanted to stay, but his wife became ill and could not be treated properly there, so they returned to Chile. The improved medical care was of no avail, however, and she died soon after. This, together with the premature death of one of his daughters, resulted in a severe depression that made him increasingly isolated and unsociable. He died peacefully at home, a virtual hermit, and was buried next to his wife.