Church or Chapel of the Rosary of Cúcuta Where the Congress of Colombia Met, Province of Santander


This watercolor by Carmelo Fernández (1809−87) shows a church in Cúcuta, in the province of Santander (present-day capital of Norte de Santander), in northeastern Colombia. The caption identifies the church as “the church or chapel of the Rosary of Cúcuta, where the admirable congress of Colombia met.” The caption is inaccurate. The 1821 constitution was drafted and adopted in Cúcuta, but the “Admirable Congress” (convened to reform the constitution and so called for the high reputation of its members) met in Bogotá in 1830. Fernández was born in San José de Guama, Venezuela, into a well-connected family (he was the nephew of José Antonio Páez, a hero of Venezuelan independence and three times president). He studied art in New York when still a youth. He returned home in 1827 and served in the military, where he mastered topographical drawing. Political turmoil in Venezuela prompted him to move to New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama) in 1849. There he became the first draftsman for the Comisión Corográfica (Chorographic Commission), which was co-founded and directed by Agustín Codazzi (1793–1859), an Italian-born geographer and engineer. The commission, which began work in 1850, studied the geography, cartography, natural resources, natural history, regional culture, and agriculture of New Granada. In 1850−52 Fernández painted about 30 watercolors in the provinces northeast of Bogotá: Tunja, Pamplona, Ocaña, Socorro, Vélez, and Santander. These works, which are now in the National Library of Colombia, portray the diverse ethnic, racial, and social groups and the varied physical landscape of New Granada. Fernández was succeeded on the commission by Henry Price (1819−1863) and later Manuel María Paz (1820−1902). He returned to Caracas aged 43, where he lived most of the rest of his life. In 1873 he produced his most famous work, a portrait of Símon Bolívar that appears on Venezuelan coins.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Yglesia ó capilla del Rosario de Cúcuta donde se reunio el congreso admirable de Colombia

Type of Item

Physical Description

Watercolor on paper ; 30 x 22 centimeters


  1. Matthew Brown, The Struggle for Power in Post-Independence Colombia and Venezuela (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  2. Jorge Pablo Osterling, Democracy in Colombia: Clientelist Politics and Guerrilla Warfare (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1989).

Last updated: February 18, 2015