Who was Jose Campeche y Jordán (December 23, 1751 – November 7, 1809), is the first known Puerto Ricanvisual artist and considered by art critics as one of the best rococo artists in the Americas. Campeche y Jordán loved to use colors that referenced the landscape of Puerto Rico, as well as the social and political crème de la crème.
Campeche was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His parents were Tomás Campeche (1701–1780) and María Jordán y Marqués. His father was a freed slave born in Puerto Rico and his mother was a native of the Canary Islands. His father, a restorer, and painter of religious statues was an early influence on the young Campeche’s interest in the arts. Campeche was trained by Luis Paret y Alcázar, a Spanish court painter banished from Spain.
Campeche distinguished himself with his paintings related to religious themes and of governors and other important personalities.
The Puerto Rican society of the time appreciated Campeche’s personal and artistic merits and he is now considered to be among the most gifted rococo artists in the Americas. His works of art can be found in museums, churches and private collections in Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Campeche died in the city of San Juan on November 7, 1809.
By the time José Campeche passed away in 1809, he left behind between four to five hundred paintings, which can be found in art galleries around the world, churches, private collections, and museums. Some of his work can be viewed in the Dominican Convent located in Old San Juan in the José Campeche room, which is dedicated to his life’s work. Schools, avenues, musical compositions, and other artwork have been named in his honor. He was laid to rest at the San José Church, also located in Old San Juan.