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Travel and tourism throughout Latin America. Campeche and Oller: Two Great Puerto Rican Artists
Many fine artists have hailed from Puerto Rico. Two early painters who distinguished themselves were Josť Campeche and Francisco Oller.



Josť Campeche is widely acknowledged as Puerto Rico’s first important artist. In 1752 he was born to a freed slave and a Spaniard from the Canary Islands. He learned to paint from his father, a gilder and painter of limited talent. Because there was no art school on the island, Campeche did not receive a formal art education in painting. Fortunately, he became friends with Luis Parat Alcazar, an exiled Spanish court painter, who trained him.

Campeche was a devout Catholic, and most of his paintings dealt with religious topics, although he also painted secular themes. When he died in 1809 he had completed over 400 works.

Puerto Rico’s top painter of the 19th century, Francisco Oller, was born in 1833 in Bayamon. His great talent showed itself early. When he was twelve years old he began creating paintings for churches. By the time he was eighteen he had earned enough from these jobs to enroll in an art school in Madrid, Spain.

Oller preferred to paint portraits and landscapes, and his work gained attention from many of his contemporaries. After school he returned to the island, and won recognition in several contests. At 25 Oller went back to Europe, choosing to travel to Paris. In Paris he studied with the well-known artist Gustave Courbet, and met artists such as Pisarro, Cezanne, Monet and Degas. His painting was well received, and he was invited to show his works in the prestigious Paris Salon.

Oller lived in Puerto Rico for much of his life, and married and opened art schools on the island. He died in Puerto Rico in 1917.

See a painting by Campeche

See a painting by Oller

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