El Gobernador Don Miguel Antonio de Ustáriz (1792) by José Campeche y JordánInstituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña
The subject of this portrait is Don Miguel Antonio de Ustáriz, Governor and Captain General of Puerto Rico, who ruled from 1789 to 1792, during the Bourbon Reform.
Campeche places his portraits in a sumptuous setting that reflects the economic abundance of the time.
The Governor proudly wears the brigadier uniform of the Corps of Engineers.
The three books resting on the table were added by the artist intentionally as a way to emphasize Ustáriz’ quality as an educated man.
In this portrait, Campeche pulls back the curtain, both figuratively and literally, revealing a window into a growing city in the midst of a rapid transformation; as evidenced by the depiction of the paving work of the city's streets in its distinctive blue cobblestones being carried out in the painting's background.
If we take a close look into the balconies of the buildings set in the back of Ustáriz, we can spot several ladies who appear to be prying intently into the work been carried out on the streets beneath them; possibly even flirting with the workers below.