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Argentine Painter Florencio Molina Campos

Florencio Molina Campos (1891-1959) was an Argentine painter and illustrator known for his humorous depictions of gauchos (Argentine cowboys), playing jineteada gaucha in traditional scenes of the pampas (Northern Argentine Plains).

Campos was born and raised in the city of Buenos Aires, but also spent a lot of time vacationing on his family’s rural estate. There, he developed a deep knowledge of rural life and of the pampas landscape.

After the sudden death of his father in 1907, Campos began drawing, and his initial sketches emanated a nostalgia for rural life from his childhood. His first exhibition was in 1926 at the Central Hall of the Argentine Rural Society. After seeing the exhibition, Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear, the President of Argentina at that time, named him art teacher of the Colegio Nacional Avellaneda.

In 1930, the Alpargatas company, makers of espadrilles, under the supervision of engineer Luis Pastorino, commissioned twelve illustrations from Campos for their calendar. These were so successful that Campos continued to provide the drawings for the next twelve years. In 1942, he exhibited in a show at the Modern Art Museum of San Francisco, which then toured the United States. In 1956, he had an exhibition at the Witcomb Gallery in Buenos Aires.

Molina Campos consulted as one of the creative artists in Disney's 1942 animated film, Bambi.
Molina Campos consulted as one of the creative artists in Disney’s 1942 animated film, Bambi.

In the late 1940s until the mid-1950s, he consulted as a creative artist for the studio of his long-time friend, Walt Disney. They worked together on the creation of characters for the 1942 animated film, Bambi. His contribution to the film can be recognized in the style of the animals and trees in the film that depicts the wild life of Victoria Island on Nahuel Huapi Lake, in Argentina’s Patagonia.

As an artistic consultant with the Disney studios, he also contributed in the creation of inexpensive package films, containing collections of cartoon shorts, and issued them to theaters during this period. The most notable and successful of these were Saludos Amigos (1942), its sequel The Three Caballeros (1945), Fun and Fancy Free (1947) and in the original movie poster of Alice in Wonderland (1951).

Campos’ work has wide appeal and has fetched strong prices at auction. A 1936 tempera on paper depiction of Gauchos Playing Polo made $42,600 at auction in 2009, and last year a similar subject made $38,000.

We are pleased to have on offer in our November 14th auction, from the Collection of Cornelia Guest, formerly the Collection of Winston & C.Z. Guest, Templeton, a watercolor and gouache, Gaucho on Horseback by Florencio Molina Campos, Lot 237, with an estimate of $8,000 – $12,000; sold $15,000 hammer.

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