He was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and was the son-in-law of Diego Rivera. He exchanged his career as architect to be exclusively painter. In 1944 he painted his first selfportrait and in 1952 was awarded the Prize for Fine Arts of the National Institute of the Mexican Youth. His representational paintings have a melancholic sobriety, and draws faces from the past great masters, often floating in a diffuse haze. In 1990 he has offered his collection of Mexican Art to the creation of a "Museum of Rafael Coronel" in Zacatecas, México dedicated to his works.