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The Life of Juan Manuel Blanes

During his life, Juan Manuel Blanes experienced many adventures. In his early years, he lived in Spain, and later in Mexico. He died in 1986, at the age of 65.

Juan Manuel Blanes

During his lifetime, Uruguayan artist Juan Manuel Blanes painted some of the most acclaimed and well-known portraits in Latin American history. His work was based on his own research, but it also reflected the growing influence of naturalism in 19th-century painting.

Blanes was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1830. He became an artist in his early teens. He was raised by his mother and later moved to the countryside. In 1855, Blanes married Maria Linari. They moved to Salto and Concepcion del Uruguay. They moved back to Montevideo in 1861. Blanes’ family then left for Italy, where he settled in Pisa for two years. He was there when he died.

In 1857, Blanes was commissioned by the Argentine president Justo Jose de Urquiza to paint portraits. He also painted the family of the general, whose portraits were on display in the chapel of San Jose Palace. He also painted religious themes for the chapel. Blanes received commissions to paint the presidents of Argentina and Paraguay, as well as other Latin American personalities. He also exhibited his work in the recovering Buenos Aires.

Blanes specialized in historical painting, illustrating major events in both Argentina and Uruguay. His work was highly popular with the local gentry. He later moved to Pisa, where he died in 1898. His work is displayed in the National Museum of Visual Arts in Montevideo. In 1930, the city of Montevideo renamed its municipal museum of fine arts after Blanes. His work is represented in museums around the world. His work is in the collections of the National Museum of Visual Arts in Montevideo, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Vatican Museum in Rome. He is also the subject of a sculpture in Washington, D.C. based on his portrait of General Jose Gervasio Artigas. During World War II, a statue of General Jose Gervasio Artigas was erected in Uruguay. The Uruguayan gaucho became a nationalist icon. In a career that lasted for over four decades, Blanes created some of the most acclaimed and best-known portraits in Latin American history. He also made a name for himself as a portraitist and typographer, and earned extra income with watercolors.


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