The Academy of San Carlos and Mexican Art History: Politics, History, and Art in Nineteenth-Century Mexico, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Academy of San Carlos and Mexican Art History

Politics, History, and Art in Nineteenth-Century Mexico, 1st Edition

By Ray Hernandez-Duran


174 pages

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Hardback: 9781409434122
pub: 2016-10-28

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The first substantial Mexican colonial art historiography in English, this book examines the origin of the study of colonial art in Mexico as a symptom of the development of modern museum practice in mid-nineteenth-century Mexico City. Also an intellectual history, this study recognizes the role of nationalism in the initiation of art historical practice in what is understood today more broadly as Latin America. Although there has been a steady stream of scholarship produced about the subject, beginning in Mexico and increasingly in the United States, what is variably known as viceregal or colonial Mexican, Spanish colonial, and colonial Latin American art continues to be underplayed or overlooked by most art historians and is thus marginal in the field of art history. Ray Hernández-Durán redresses that omission, presenting a detailed examination of the origin of the study of colonial art in Mexico. Drawing upon archival research, this volume touches upon the role of politics on the formation of the first gallery of Mexican painting in the Academy of San Carlos and the first comprehensive historical treatment of the material in the form of a dialogue. Furthermore, this study promotes further research in colonial art historiography and underlines the pivotal role that the Indo-Hispanic Americas played in the emergence of early modernity and the process of globalization.


"A book can be considered excellent when it not only answers questions but also poses many new ones. Hernández-Durán’s book is certainly one of these significant, generative contributions to scholarship. His capacity to connect detailed archival research to theoretical discussions in so many levels is admirable, and will be instrumental for future scholars, particularly those interested in Latin America."

--Journal of Art Historiography

"Hernández-Durán’s book offers a solid account of the political and intellectual forces that contributed to the reassessment of colonial art in nineteenth-century Mexico."

--History of Humanities

Table of Contents


Chapter One

A Historiography of Colonial Art in Mexico: Problems, Context, and Developments

Chapter Two

Locating a Colonial Past in the Nation’s Memory: The Politics of Making History

Chapter Three

The Academy of San Carlos and the Old Mexican School: Collecting and Displaying Colonial Painting

Chapter Four

Writing a History of Art in Mexico: From Spectacular Verses to Rational Texts

Chapter Five

Concluding Remarks: Contested Ground

About the Author

Ray Hernández-Durán completed his B.A. and B.F.A. at the University of Texas at Austin, his M.A. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He teaches the history of colonial Ibero-American arts and architecture at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

About the Series

Studies in Art Historiography

Studies in Art Historiography
The aim of this series is to support and promote the study of the history and practice of art historical writing focussing on its institutional and conceptual foundations, from the past to the present day in all areas and all periods. Besides addressing the major innovators of the past it also encourages re-thinking ways in which the subject may be written in the future. It ignores the disciplinary boundaries imposed by the Anglophone expression 'art history' and allows and encourages the full range of enquiry that encompasses the visual arts in its broadest sense as well as topics falling within archaeology, anthropology, ethnography and other specialist disciplines and approaches. It welcomes contributions from young and established scholars and is aimed at building an expanded audience for what has hitherto been a much specialised topic of investigation. It complements the work of the Journal of Art Historiography.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / General
ART / History / General
ART / History / Modern (late 19th Century to 1945)
ART / Techniques / Painting
ART / Art & Politics
ART / American / Hispanic American
ART / Caribbean & Latin American
ART / Museum Studies
HISTORY / Latin America / Mexico
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century