Velasco, José María

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Velasco, José María

José María Velasco (hōsā´ märē´ä vāläs´kō), 1840–1912, Mexican landscape painter; teacher of Diego Rivera. A gifted artisan descended from a family of shawl weavers, he entered the art academy of San Carlos in 1858. His early work is reminiscent of Corot. Feeling that scientific knowledge would enable him to depict most expressively the natural beauty of the Valley of Mexico, he studied anatomy, botany, geology, and other sciences. He became extremely fluent in oil technique and developed an immense variety of shades of coloring. He portrayed nature with minute attention to detail, as in his painting The Bridge of Metlac (1881); his paintings of rocks manage to convey the effects of time and weather. He deviated from academic standards and in 1907 was removed from a professorship at the Mexican National Academy which he had held since 1868. His paintings, rejected in Mexico, won first place at the Paris exposition (1889). Altogether he painted more than 400 oils and worked also in pencil and watercolor. Almost forgotten after his death, he commanded new praise at a large retrospective exhibition (1942) in Mexico City.

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