Cristobal Rojas Poleo

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Cristóbal Rojas Poleo (1858-1890), one of the most emblematic figures of nineteenth-century Venezuelan painting, is one of the authors of our series of illustrated books. Rojas Poleo’s life and work reflect a gripping combination of talent, tenacity and personal drama that helped forge one of the most distinctive artistic careers of his time.
The reason why we have edited this title and used images of Rojas Poleo’s works on the covers of our books lies in the unparalleled visual representation that this artist provides of the history of Latin America. Also his ability to capture critical moments and significant or common characters, with depth and emotion in his paintings, make him an ideal artist to visually represent the complexity and richness of emotions.
The works of Rojas Poleo included in our series not only bring beauty and technical mastery, but also embody a unique vision and have a powerful narrative. His paintings are emblematic, and through them, readers can immerse themselves in the time and connect with the events and emotions that were part of the identity and cultural heritage of Latin America.
Born in Cúa, Venezuela, during the turbulent time of the Federal War, Rojas Poleo showed an early vocation for drawing, influenced by his grandfather, the carver José Luis Rojas. Despite adversity and financial challenges following his father’s death, he managed to pursue his passion for painting, working in a tobacco factory to support his family and studying with artist José Manuel Maucó in Caracas.
Cristóbal Rojas Poleo achieved notoriety with his paintings depicting the natural disasters of his time, such as “Ruinas de Cúa” and “Ruinas del templo de la Merced”, works that captured the devastation of the 1878 earthquake in the Tuy valleys. His commitment to reality and tragedy is reflected in his style, marked by intense drama.
His talent was recognized and supported by figures such as Antonio Herrera Toro, and in 1883 he received a scholarship to study in Europe. His time at the Académie Julian in Paris under the tutelage of Jean-Paul Laurens was transformative, and his works began to receive recognition in Parisian salons. Works such as “Misery” and “The Tavern” highlight his ability to capture human emotion and social complexity.
Rojas Poleo’s career in Europe was prolific, but his life was marked by illness. Suffering from tuberculosis, he was forced to retire temporarily, although he continued to paint and participate in exhibitions.
He returned to Caracas in 1890, bringing with him “El Purgatorio”, one of his most significant religious works, before succumbing to the disease later that year.
What distinguishes Cristóbal Rojas Poleo is not only his technical ability, but the emotional and social depth of his work. His paintings are not only visual representations, but also reflections of his personal history and the social and political climate of his time.

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Rústica tipográfica148 mm210 mm
Rústica ilustrada149 mm210 mm
Tapa dura152 mm228 mm
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