Niño Juan Pantaleón Avilés (1808) by José Campeche y JordánInstituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña
The subject of this portrait is the child Juan Pantaleón Avilés de Luna Alvarado.He lived in the southern town of Coamo and was brought to the capital by his parents for his christian confirmation. It’s presumed that the child suffered from amelia, a congenital anomaly.
This work was commissioned by Prelate Juan Alejo de Arizmendi, who was appointed Bishop of Puerto Rico in 1804, becoming the first native to be appointed as such.
The artwork could be considered either a medical record of the child’s illness or a curiosity.
The intricate lace on the cushion where the child rests is a sign of the Puerto Rican painter’s extraordinary talent as a miniaturist.
This is the last known painting of Campeche. The painter passed away in 1809 due to a contagious malady.