José María Velasco Gómez
José María Tranquilino Francisco de Jesús Velasco Gómez Obregón (Temascalcingo, 6 July 1840 – Mexico City, 26 August 1912) was a 19th-century Mexican painter who made Mexican geography a symbol of national identity through his paintings. He was one of the most popular artists of the time and received many distinctions such as the gold medal of National Expositions of Bellas Artes in 1874 and 1876, the gold medal of the Philadelphia International Exposition in 1876 and the medal of the Paris' Universal Exposition in 1889. His painting El valle de México is considered Velasco's masterpiece.
His production can be classified into three periods: The academic years, from 1860 to 1889, that include La Plaza de San Jacinto en San Ángel, Las montañas de la Magadalena, La Alameda de México, El bosque de Jalapa, El Cedro de Chimalistac and El Ahuehuete de Chapultepec.
The period from 1890 to 1892, when he was in touch with French Impressionists, that includes Valle de Mexico desde el cerro de Atraeualco and Ajusco visto desde el Tepeyac.
Finally, a personal period from 1892 to 1912, that includes Rocas del cerro de Atzacoalco, Pirámide del Sol en Teotihuacán, Popocatepetl, Ixtlaciual, Templo de San Bernardo, Cascada de Nevaxa and El Puente de Metlac.
Velasco was also interested in science. In 1879, he described a new species of Ambystoma found in the Santa Isabel lake, north of Mexico City, and published his observations in the Mexican scientific journal La Naturaleza (La Naturaleza 4: 216). The new species was named by Velasco Siredon Tigrina. In 1888 Alfredo Dugès (1826–1910) renamed the species and dedicated it to Velasco as Ambystoma velasci (see also Plateau Tiger Salamander).
Today the Government of the State of Mexico, where Velasco was from, presents an award for artistic merit in his name to painters born in that state. Among the most outstanding winners are Luis Nishizawa, Leopoldo Flores, Ignacio Barrios and Héctor Cruz.
The José María Velasco Museum was opened in 1992 in Toluca City with the task of preserving and promoting his paintings.