Monday, May 18, 2015

Alberto Valenzuela Llanos

Paisaje con Manzanillas (Manzanillas en flor)
year unknown
oil on canvas
80 x 200 cm   
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Chile

Alberto Valenzuela Llanos (1869-1925), born in the city of San Fernando, Chile, was one of Chile's greatest painters and one of the four Great Chilean Masters, along with Pedro Lira, Alfredo Valenzuela Puelma and Juan Francisco Gonzalez. He was a landscape painter and left an estimated 1,000 paintings.

He was the son of a formerly wealthy family in decline. In his youth, he was always interested in nature and enjoyed strolling through the grounds and admiring the countryside. He often made sketches of trees and colours and was known as respectable young gentleman.

As the financial situation of his family got steadily worse, he decided to work in the local textile store. At the age of 17, he started drawing lilies on a piece of fabric. The textile store owner saw the drawings and, annoyed but impressed, showed the ruined fabric to the boy's father. His father was amazed at Alberto’s talent and decided that the boy was born to be an artist.

He produced textured, subtle and simple landscapes using pinks and greens. His paintings of the spring are a faithful record of the morning light. The size of his canvases is particularly notable and is well above the average for the period. Experience of financial difficulties taught him to produce many paintings in a short time, so his work ended up being widely distributed around Chile.

In 1891, he won an award at an exhibition in the United States and the Chilean government gave him a scholarship to study in Paris in exchange for some years of teaching. There, he learned about impressionism and expressionism and had an extremely productive period, producing many paintings of Paris at dawn. Finally, in 1906, he returned home to Chile. After that he was hired as professor of painting at the School of Fine Arts, where he taught for a couple of years.