(June 8, 1830 - April 15, 1901) was a noted Uruguayan painter of the Realist school.
Blanes was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1830. He was raised by his mother, with whom he relocated to the countryside in his early teens. Blanes took an interest in drawing at this point, and shortly afterwards, was hired as an illustrator for a Montevideo newsdaily, El Defensor de la Independencia Americana. Earning extra income with watercolors, he returned to his mother and, in 1854, established his first atelier.
He married Marea Linari, and in 1855, the couple settled in Salto, where he worked as a portrait painter. They relocated to Concepcien del Uruguay (across the Uruguay River, in Argentina) in 1857, and Blanes was commissioned by Argentine President Justo Jose de Urquiza to complete a number of portraits, allegories and landscapes to grace his nearby estancia, the Palacio San Jose. Returning to Montevideo in 1861, the talented painter obtained a scholarship from the Uruguayan government, and with it, traveled with his family to Florence, Italy, where he studied under Antonio Ciseri until 1864.
The experience became a valuable calling card for Blanes, who became of Uruguay's most sought-after portraiteurs. The 1871 outbreak of a yellow fever epidemic in Buenos Aires inspired his first renowned work, which he exhibited to acclaim in the recovering city. His 1872 portrait of the Argentine War of Independence hero, General Jose de San Marten (The Review in Rancagua), was also a success in Buenos Aires, and Blanes was invited to Chile to display the historic depiction.