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Prilidiano Pueyrredón was one of the country’s first prominent painters, and was mainly known for his consumerist sensibility and preference for everyday times. Pueyrredón was not only a painter, but also an architect and engineer (Encyclopedia Britannica). Pueyrredón was born on January 24, 1823 and was the only son of Juan Martin de Pueyrredón who, at the time, was the supreme director of the United Provinces of the River Plate. He completed his primary education at the upper-class Colegio de la Independencia, and then in 1835 his family moved to Europe, where he finished his schooling (Encyclopedia.com). He spent his school years in Paris, and the summer in Cadiz, where his father owned an Argentine leather importing business. As the relationship between France and Argentina began to suffer, the Pueyrredón moved to Rio de Janeiro. The city’s liberal atmosphere encouraged Prilidiano artistic calling (Encyclopedia.com). When Prilidiano returned to Paris three years later he received his mother and father’s permission to study engineering. When Prilidiano’s father became ill, the family returned to Buenos Aires. The following year, Prilidiano’s father died at their family estate in San Isidro.
The young Prilidiano, already an engineer, was seen as a peculiar figure by the standards of the Porteno aristocracy with the many rumors of his immorality. These rumors came about because of the fact that he was the first painter in Buenos Aires to paint nudes, two of which are still housed in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Even with his questionable reputation, Pueyrredón became very popular among the aristocrats, because he frequently painted their portraits (Encylopedia.com). Some subjects included Manuelita, the daughter of Roses, whom he painted in 1851. Later in 1851, he had a falling out with his neighbor and cousin Magdalena Costa, whom he was courting at the time. This drove him back to Cadiz where he had an affair with a local girl which led to the birth of his only daughter.
In 1854, he returned to Buenos Aires for the last time, and applied his architectural and engineering skills to the several public works that the city’s port had started. He worked on the restoration and enlargement of several monuments. A couple of them were the chapel of Recoleta, the Pyramid of the Plaza de Mayo, and the Casa Rosasa (Encyclopedia.com). As an urban planner, he designed the Plaza de la Victoria, which was a park that was on the Julio Avenue, and also the bridge in the neighborhood of Barracas. He also designed the mansion built by Miguel de Azcuenaga in Olivos, which later became the official residence of the President of Argentina (Encyclopedia.com)
Between the 1850s and 1860s, was Pueyrredón’s most creative period as a painter. 233 works have survived from this period, and more then half of them were commissioned pieces. During this time he became one of the first painters to paint the figure of the gaucho, whom he depicted in the Romantic style that he discovered during his time in Europe (Encylopedia.com). His most famous works of art are of life in the wilds of the Pampas and on the banks of the Rio de la Plata. Prilidiano Pueyrredón died on November 3, 1870 at age 47 at his family estate in San Isidro. Until the 1930s, he was largely forgotten. Argentin critics then recognized his contributions to the country’s arts. He was particularly admired for his portrait of his father (Encyclopedia.com).
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