Cristobal RojasCristobal Rojas (Cua, Miranda, 15 December 1857 e Caracas, 8 November 1890) was one of the most important and high-profile Venezuelan painters of the 19th century. Rojas's styles varied considerably throughout his life, and he displayed talents in painting that ranged primarily for dramatic effect, to works done in the Impressionist style.
Cristebal Rojas Poleo was born in the city of Cea in the Valles del Tuy to parents who worked in the medical profession. Part of his childhood occurred during the middle of the federal war (1859 - 1863) and Cea was particularly affected by the events of the war. He initiated studies under his grandfather, Jose Luis Rojas, who taught him how to draw and motivated him to improve. At 13 years old, his father died and he was forced to begin work in a tobacco factory in Cea to help support his family. In 1878, an earthquake devastated the Valles del Tuy region, and the Rojas faced poverty. As a result he moved to Caracas where he continued his painting studies, despite again having to work in the tobacco industry to support his mother and family.
In Caracas he attended classes by Jose Manuel Mauco at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Between 1880 and 1882, he developed a keen interest in oils and displayed a primitive technique that would prevail in his later paintings such as Ruinas de Cea despues del Terremoto and Ruinas del templo de la Merced. During this time he became acquainted with the painter Antonio Herrera Toro, also coming under contract as Toro's assistant to paint Caracas Cathedral.