Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

187?-1915 - Leather Lane (Holborn)

Artists’ model Gaetano Valvona was born in 1857 into a family of shepherds. He arrived in London at some time in the 1870s still wearing the shepherd costume of his native Italian countryside - which provoked stone-throwing boys to chase him through Leather Lane, Holborn, where he had settled. His presence and physique cought the eye of Frederick Leighton who made him his chosen model. Valvona posed for the Sluggard (1885), a life size bronze made for exhibition at the Royal Academy. Gaetano struggled for work after Leighton’s death in 1896. He died in 1915.

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