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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Renowned portrait painter Rodón dies at age 88

Francisco Rodón

By The Star Staff

Francisco Rodón, an artist known as the father of modern portraiture in Puerto Rico, died in his sleep early Saturday at age 88 in San Juan, according to press reports.

Rodón was a portrait and landscape painter who was named the island’s most important 20th-century painter during the Seville Expo ’92 world’s fair in Spain.

He joined the likes of 18th-century painter José Campeche and the 19th century’s Francisco Oller as the most important painters of their respective centuries.

Rodón was born in San Sebastián in 1934, and in his youth studied in Mexico, France and Spain.

He was known as a landscape and portrait painter and painted portraits of such illustrious figures as the famed Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges, Cuban choreographer and dancer Alicia Alonso and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru.

A Rodón portrait of Puerto Rico’s first democratically elected governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, unveiled in Puerto Rico in 1977, was placed with much fanfare in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 1995.

“To me it is a great honor that this remarkable man who did so much for Puerto Rico and what he meant for Puerto Ricans is here at the National Gallery,” Rodón told NBC News at the time. “To be here and show this work of art is truly one of my life’s greatest privileges.”

“This is definitely my memoir,” said Muñoz Marín, who died in 1980, of the portrait. “It captures the feeling in a stage of my life where I look back and I am saddened not to have done or not being able to do much more than I have already done.”

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