Friday, May 22, 2015

Francisco Laso

The Three Races or Equality before the Law
oil on canvas
81 x 105 cm
Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru

Jose Francisco Domingo Laso de la Vega y de los Rios (1823-1869) was a Peruvian painter and politician. During his lifetime he was mostly known for his portraits, but is now better known for creating works that were precursors to indigenismo in art.

He was born to an aristocratic colonial family. His father was one of Peru's founding fathers and, later, a government Minister. His mother was the sister of the "Marquis de Villahermosa de San Jose". He attended the public schools, then went to Lima to study law, but quit after only a short time and enrolled at the "Academy of Drawing and Painting".

He went to Paris in 1842 to study painting. On visits to Rome and Venice he was influenced by Titian and Veronese. In 1847 he returned to Peru and traveled throughout the countryside, sketching Indians. During a second trip to Europe he studied with a genre painter in Paris. Shortly after his return, he was a participant in the Battle of Callao, where he served as a firefighter.

An epidemic of yellow fever struck Lima in 1868, and he worked closely with the Red Cross in their campaign to eradicate it. His health was not up to the effort, however, and he caught the disease in 1869. He died near the village of San Mateo while being transferred to a mountain resort for treatment.