The vitality and ingenuity of the artists of the Viceroyalty of New Spain (Mexico) during the 18th century is the focus of the exhibition Pintado en México, 1700-1790: Pinxit Mexici. Through some 110 works of art (mainly paintings), many of them exhibited here for the first time or recently restored, the exhibition takes a tour of the most outstanding artists and stylistic developments of the period and will highlight the emergence of new genres and pictorial themes. The exhibition represents the first great revaluation in depth of Mexican painting of the eighteenth century.

The eighteenth century marked a period of splendor in New Spain: new schools of painting were consolidated, new iconographies were invented and artists actively sought ways to renew their art. During that century numerous religious institutions flourished; More than in any previous period, painters were asked to execute mural-sized works to decorate, among other spaces, sacristies, choirs or university halls. These same artists also made portraits, paintings of castes, screens and delicate devotional paintings, thus giving faith of their remarkable versatility. They were, in fact, four generations of craftsmen who excelled throughout the eighteenth century and produced a volume of works rarely seen in the broad geography of the Hispanic world.

In this century, painters also acquired a greater awareness of their own professional identity. This led many learned painters not only to sign their works, but also to refer explicitly to their place of origin through the Latin expression Pinxit Mexici (painted in Mexico). This expression eloquently sums up the artists’ pride in their local tradition as well as their connection to other, broader transatlantic tendencies.

Exhibition Overview

The vitality and inventiveness of artists in eighteenth-century New Spain (Mexico) is the focus of this exhibition, which presents some 110 works of art (primarily paintings), many of which are unpublished and newly restored. The exhibition surveys the most important artists and stylistic developments of the period and highlights the emergence of new pictorial genres and subjects. It is the first major exhibition devoted to this neglected topic.

The eighteenth century ushered in a period of pictorial splendor in Mexico as local schools of painting were consolidated, new iconographies were invented, and painters explored new ways to invigorate their art. Attesting to their extraordinary versatility, the artists who created mural-size paintings to cover the walls of sacristies, choirs, and university halls were often the same ones who produced portraits, casta paintings (depictions of racially mixed families), painted folding screens, and finely rendered devotional imagery. The volume of work produced by the four generations of Mexican artists that spanned the eighteenth century is virtually unmatched elsewhere in the Spanish world.

The growing professional self-awareness of artists during the period led many educated painters not only to sign their works to emphasize their authorship but also to make explicit reference to Mexico as their place of origin through the Latin phrase pinxit Mexici (painted in Mexico). This expression eloquently encapsulates the painters’ pride in their own tradition and their connection to larger, transatlantic trends.

Exhibition Galleries

Great Masters

Master Storytellers and the Art of Expression

Noble Pursuits and the Academy

Paintings of the Land

The Power of Portraiture

The Allegorical World

Imagining the Sacred