Carlos Baca-Flor Soberón (1867-1941)

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Portrait of the Artist

Carlos Baca-Flor Soberón was born in Islay, a province of Arequipa in 1867, and died in Paris, France in 1941. When Carlos was 4 years old he moved with his family to Santiago de Chile. One year later his father died and he was raised by his mother who had a relevant influence on his hazardous life. He made his first studies in Chile showing superb conditions for the art which obtained his mother’s approval; she encouraged him to pursue the career although they lacked money very much. In 1882 he was accepted into the Santiago de Chile Academy of Beaux Arts where he finished his studies in 1886. He received high honors, including gold medals and one scholarship to continue academic improvement courses for five years in Rome. Because of his Peruvian citizenship, the Government asked him to become a naturalized Chilean citizen in order to redeem the scholarship but he refused to do so, showing a noble gesture of patriotism.

When the Peruvian Ambassador in Chile found out about this gesture, a message was sent to the Peruvian Government requesting official recognition for the young artist worthy attitude. In 1887, he travels to Lima invited by the Government of General Caceres who had the intention of sending him to Europe. Staying in Lima for good, Carlos Baca-Flor spent three years waiting for the scholarship which gave him the opportunity to do a series of excellent portraits of Lima’s society; among them we can highlight “Mrs. Antonia Moreno de Caceres”, “Miss Hortencia Caceres” wife and daughter respectively of President Caceres and the portrait of Mr. Scipion Llona, his dearly beloved friend.

In 1890 he traveled to Europe arriving in Paris and later went to Rome where he is accepted in the Royal Academy of Beaux Arts after a rigorous examination that resulted in first place. His years of study in Italy meant for the artist enormous sacrifices but at the same time the acquisition of varied knowledge. In April 1893 he returned to Paris and registered in the Juliana Academy, a free center of artistic studies of great reputation. He made, in the French capital, superb portraits of high personalities such as “The Marquis of the Pallice” and of fashion designer Worth which opens the door to fame through a contract to go to the U.S. as a portrait painter specialist.

After 16 years in Paris he went to New York to paint the portrait of wealthy banker John Morgan who requested half a dozen more copies as a way to show affection and admiration. He lived in the U.S. a little more than 20 years executing about 130 portraits of the most distinguished people of New York’s high society that resulted in a payment of several million dollars. In 1926 he was named member of the Academy of Beaux Arts, which is why he returned to Paris in 1929 where he was welcomed with high honors and homage, staying there until his death.

The painting of master Baca-Flor is founded in solid academic basis and very honest personal requirements to obtain an execution of high level of school. He was a sincere admirer and follower of the great masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci, an example of life and art for him, Rembrandt, master of light and suggestive semi-darkness, of Holbein, young portrait specialist, unique in the history of art. Finally Baca-Flor had the only logical result, the success. His great technical skill and deep sense of observation and realistic execution defined him as part of the most complex topic, the portrait.

Still wondering about a Peruvian painting in your family collection? Contact Art Experts - it could be by Carlos Baca-Flor Soberón.