José Campeche y Jordán (December 23, 1751 – November 7, 1809), is the first known Puerto Rican visual 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. His most famous paintings are: and his best known portraits are of:
- Juan Alejo de Arizmendi
- Our Lady of Bethlehem
- Portrait of Brigadier don Ramón de Castro y Gutiérrez
- Portrait of Governor don Miguel de Ustariz
- Saint John the Baptist
- The Bishop of San Francisco de la Cuerda
- The Rescue of Don Ramón Power y Giralt in honor of Ramón Power y Giralt
- The Sacred Family
- The Virgin of the Rosary
- The Vision of Saint Anthony
- Virgen de la Soledad de la Victoria
- Doña María de los Dolores Gutiérrez del Mazo y Pérez, ca. 1796.
|Some of José Campeche's works|
The Puerto Rican society of the time appreciated Campeche's personal and artistic merits and he is now considered to be amongst 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.
- There is a "José Campeche room" in the former Dominican Convent in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, where some of his works can be seen. The building is currently being renovated and will be reinaugurated as the National Gallery of Puerto Rico.
- Puerto Rico has various schools and avenues named after Campeche to honor his memory.
- The José Campeche High School is located in San Lorenzo.
- Manuel Gregorio Tavárez composed a funeral march "Redención" in Campeche's honor.
- Puerto Rican graphic artist Lorenzo Homar also created a work of art commemorating Campeche.
- Campeche is buried in the San José Church in Old San Juan.