Portrait of Laureano Figuerola y Ballester, Máximo Peña Muñoz
Our series of posts "If paintings talked" ("Si los cuadros hablaran") continues with this portrait of Laureano Figuerola y Ballester. This 19th century Spanish economist and politician studied Law and Economics at the universities of Barcelona and Madrid, where he obtained a degree in 1840. He was a Professor of Public and Administrative Law and of Political Law and Mercantile Legislation. He was renowned for his reformist and liberal ideas: he founded the Sociedad Libre de Economía Política ("Free Society of Political Economy") in 1856, with Colmeiro, Pastor and Echegaray, among others; in 1859, he founded the Asociación para la Reforma de los Aranceles ("Association for Tariff Reforms"); and in 1876 he created the project and was the president of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza ("Free Institution of Education"). He alternated academic activity and university teaching with the legal profession and political activity. He was elected for the Progressive Party in 1854, 1858 and 1865. Along with Prim, he participated in the Central Revolutionary Committee that, after the end of Isabel II's reign, gave way to the provisional government presided over by General Serrano, who appointed him Minister of Finance in 1868.
In this position, which he held until 1870, he created the peseta as the basic unit of the Spanish monetary system and promoted the economic reforms that laid the foundations of the market economy in Spain. He was elected senator in Madrid in 1871 and president of the Senate in 1872. In 1876 he rejected the Restoration and signed, together with Ruiz Zorrilla, a manifesto against it which gave rise to the Progressive Republican Party. With the Restoration he retired from politics and reappeared as a councillor of the Madrid City Council in 1885. He was also the president of the Athenaeum of Madrid and the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.
Máximo Peña Muñoz
Laureano Figuerola y Ballester, c. 1870
Pastel on paper mounted on canvas on frame, 58 x 45 cm
Acquired in 1970
If you still have pesetas, you can exchange them at the Banco de España (at its headquarters in Madrid or at any of its territorial branches) until 31 December 2020. As a general rule, peseta banknotes issued after 1939 and coins in circulation on 1 January 2002, the date of the introduction of the euro, are exchangeable. Further information can be found here.