The uniqueness of his art has made Luis Paret one of the most highly regarded 18th-century Spanish painters. As a young man he went to Italy, funded by the Infante don Luis de Borbón. On his return Paret executed a series of watercolours for his patron that record the Infante’s exceptional natural history collection, exemplifi ed by the Zebra on display here. Paret focused on cabinet paintings such as delicate fl oral compositions and intriguing, exquisitely painted small scenes that reveal his knowledge of contemporary French painting. This is evident in his early Masked Ball or the later Play Rehearsal and Charles III dining before the Court. These are works that encourage the gaze to linger on the numerous fi gures, the skilfully narrated actions and the fi gures’ perfectly defi ned appearances and gestures, which together convey the vivacious, pleasure-seeking nature of society under the Ancien Régime. Paret’s destiny was linked to that of his patron for whom he acted as a procurer, resulting in his sudden banishment to Puerto Rico. Dating from that period is the artist’s Self-portrait in which he evokes his unfortunate situation and his love of the arts. The portrait of his wife, Micaela Fourdinier, reveals Paret’s classical training in the Greek dedication to his “dearly beloved wife”. Particularly interesting is the recently acquired small painting of a girl asleep in a typically Central American hammock. In this exhibition it is viewed in a camera obscura. The painting’s small format and artifi cial perspective suggest that it could have been part of a game, thus heightening the sense of suggested intimacy between Paret and his model.