Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Manuel Antonio Caro

La Zamacueca
85 x 120 cm
oil on canvas
Presidency of the Republic

Manuel Antonio Caro (c.1835-1903) was a Chilean painter and is classed among Chile's best-loved artists.
He was the first Chilean student to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His work included portraits and scenes of everyday life, and earned high honors and international recognition. One of his famous paintings is his 1872 work La Zamacueca, a colorful folk dance scene that for a time was lost during the Pinochet regime, but eventually became an icon of Chilean identity. That painting was one among several that earned him high honors at the Paris Salon of 1872 and at la Exposicion del Mercado Central (the Central Market Exhibition). La Zamacueca is the Summit of Chilean folk painting of the 19th century.

Born in a wealthy family in central coastal Chile, he received his first notions of painting at the College of the French parents of his hometown, and in 1859, at age 23, he moved to Paris, where he obtained admission to the Imperial School of fine arts, becoming the first Chilean to do so in this prestigious Center of the time. This French stage decisively marked his pictorial style, characterized by the accuracy of the representation and with the portrait and the historical episode as recurring themes. In 1865 he returned to Valparaiso, where he founded his own workshop, preferably dedicated to the portraits commissioned. He worked in an academic style in portrait painting, rather than in the more experimental styles then gaining a foothold in Europe. His subject matter often involved genre scenes of folklife, historical and 'costumbrista' subjects (subjects in costume acting out an historical event), and urban society of the 19th century.