Jose Campeche is an 18th century artist from San Juan, Puerto Rico who earned merits for his country and the Puerto Rico flag for his works in the field of visual arts. Born to a former Puerto Rican slave, Tomas Campeche, and a mother native of the Canary Islands, Maria Marquez, he was a person with mixed roots — a mulatto.
It might be said that his exposure to various cultures catapulted him into successfully becoming the first “known” visual artist of his country. Campeche’s inclination towards the arts started out early, and is often credited to his father, who worked in restoring and painting statues of Santos or saints. The young Campeche was later tutored by Luis Alcazar, a learned and experienced painter from Spain. He honed his craft well, and was soon creating masterpieces involving various subjects in religion and portraits of known people in politics.
His expertise, especially in the Rococo style of art, earned him the distinction of being the best in this field in the region. Being given this honor is truly overwhelming to any rococo artist because this art is mainly focused on beauty. Its style gives emphasis on how art will appeal to the senses of the observer-more aesthetically than intellectually. This can be seen in his paintings: the faces of people done in such softness, charm and youth — true qualities of Rococo art.
He died in the year 1809, but his death did not diminish his greatness and his legacy remains as his works are treasured until this day in art museums in his country and in the hearts of his fellowmen.