He was born in Rome. His first lessons came from his father and grandfather. Later, he attended the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, where he studied with Carlos Luis de Ribera and Carlos de Haes. He settled in Madrid and completed his education with a visit to Paris in 1860; taking lessons from Léon Cogniet and coming under the influence of his friend, Alfred Stevens.
He had his first exhibition that same year and often visited New York to sell his paintings. Among his clients there were the Vanderbilt family and Alexander Turney Stewart. He rarely had exhibitions in Spain. In 1882 he, Stevens, Giuseppe de Nittis and Georges Petit established an "International Painting Exhibition" to promote foreign artists living in Paris.