Leal, Fernando (1896–1964)

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Leal, Fernando (1896–1964)

Fernando Leal (b. 1896; d. 1964), Mexican painter. Born in Mexico City, Leal studied briefly at the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts and at the Open Air Painting School in Coyoacán under Alfredo Ramos Martínez. He was a teacher of drawing and printmaking at the Open Air School for seven years. In 1921, together with Jean Charlot, he devoted himself to woodcuts, reviving the once popular medium with images of contemporary life. Leal was among the first Mexican painters to use subjects from the Mexican Revolution in his canvases, including Zapatista Camp (1922). Later that year, he was invited by Education Minister José Vasconcelos to paint on the walls of the National Preparatory School. The result was the large encaustic mural The Feast of Our Lord of Chalma, which depicted the Indian dances dedicated to the Black Christ of the village of Chalma. In 1927 Leal decorated, in fresco, the entrance to the laboratories of the Department of Public Health. In 1931, again using encaustic, he painted the vestibule of Bolívar Hall, incorporating various events from the Wars of Independence in South America.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, who were leftists and anticlerical, Leal was a devout Catholic, and in the late 1940s he was involved in mural decorations for the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. He also served as art critic for the newspaper El Nacional Revolucionario in 1934–1935. Although he ceased mural painting in the last decade of his life, he continued to produce many easel paintings of landscapes, figures, and still lifes, as well as woodcuts, until his death.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century .


Jean Charlot, The Mexican Mural Renaissance (1962).

Antonio Rodríguez, A History of Mexican Mural Painting (1969).

Additional Bibliography

Folgarait, Leonard. Mural Painting and Social Revolution in Mexico, 1920–1940: Art of the New Order. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Pellicer, Carlos, and Rafael Carrillo Azpéitia. La Pintura mural de la Revolución Mexicana. México: Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana, 1998.

                                      Alejandro Andreus

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Leal, Fernando (1896–1964)

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