José Campeche y Jordán
Also Known as: José Campeche, Jose Campeche y Jordan
San Juan, Puerto Rico 1751
San Juan, Puerto Rico 1809
Courtesy Joseph and Carmen Ana Unanue
José Campeche was the most significant Puerto Rican painter of portraits and religious imagery. Of Afro-Caribbean ancestry, he was the son of a slave who purchased his freedom. Although primarily self-taught, Campeche was influenced by the exiled Spanish court painter Luis Paret y Alcázar, who lived in Puerto Rico from 1775 through 1778.
Jonathan Yorba Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (New York and Washington, D.C.: Watson-Guptill Publications, in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)
Luce Artist Biography
José Campeche was the most important painter of portraits and religious imagery in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Puerto Rico. He learned his skills from his father, a slave who purchased his freedom by carving altarpieces. José worked as a decorator and gilder before becoming a prominent portraitist. He probably learned about composition, style, and painting technique from imported prints and books as well as from the exiled Spanish court painter Luis Paret y Alcázar, who lived in Puerto Rico from 1775 through 1778. The details of Campeche's life remain mysterious because his belongings were destroyed after his death.