Thursday, May 21, 2015

Jose Gil de Castro

Mariano Alejo Alvarez y su hijo (Mariano Alejo Alvarez and his son)
oil on canvas
221 x 151 cm
Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru

Jose Gil de Castro y Morales (1785- c.1840/41),  familiarly known as El Mulato Gil, was an Afro-Peruvian portrait painter, cartographer and soldier who spent many years in Chile. He rendered the heroes of Peruvian independence in a precise but boldly flattened and brightly coloured documentary style with little emotional expression.

In 1816, he was appointed Grand Master of the Guild of Painters. That same year, he enlisted in the Army of the Andes and was appointed an officer in the Corps of Engineers. He was placed in charge of making maps, a trade he had practiced earlier in Peru. Thanks to his reputation as a portrait painter, he travelled extensively throughout Chile and Argentina, working on commissions from notable public figures. A distinguishing characteristic of his work is the text relating to his subject, placed on a banner, plaque or other device, that he included on many of his canvases. In 1820, he became a cartographer for the new Chilean government, but returned to Peru, and was appointed an official government painter.