This article makes several points that hint at how art was appreciated in Colombia in the late nineteenth century. Pedro Carlos Manrique Convers (1860–1927) sees in Epifanio Garay (1849–1903) a unique talent, in the former’s opinion, that has been enhanced by the latter’s training in Paris and his visits to museums, such as the Louvre. Manrique Convers also subscribes to the view?widely held at the time?that a good artist must devote some of his apprenticeship to learning directly from the European masters.
He goes on to discuss the complexities involved in being a good portrait artist, and stresses that a photograph can never compare to a good portrait because it is incapable of capturing the human soul. A good portrait painter captures certain facets of the sitter’s character that a photograph cannot grasp, which testifies to the painter’s superiority. Manrique praises the portraits painted by Diego Velázquez, saying that owing to the painter’s skillful portrayal of specific traits of his subjects, his paintings have provided a far better understanding of the Spanish court than can be found in the written reports of the period.
Manrique Convers was the director and publisher of Revista Ilustrada [Illustrated Magazine] (1898–1899), an important publication that pioneered the photoengraving technique that he brought from Paris. Manrique Convers wrote art reviews for this publication and other magazines.