Luis de Mena

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Luis de Mena was a Mexican artist who lived and worked predominantly in the middle of the eighteenth century. Mena painted religious works and has been described as "no more than a journeyman painter in 18th century Mexico."[1][2] He signed a work entitled "Most Holy Mother of Light", now on display in the Serra Museum in San Diego, California.[1]

Luis de Mena, Virgin of Guadalupe and castas, 1750

His most famous painting is in the Museo de América in Madrid, which is much reproduced as an exemplar of the casta painting genre.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] It is a single-canvas work from 1750 which portrays not only a variety of New Spain’s castas but uniquely features the Virgin of Guadalupe.[13][14] This painting also shares more common features with others of its kind, including fruits native to Mexico and idealized scenes of daily life in the top and bottom panels.

His paintings are, as a whole, more idealistic, suggesting he belonged to a school of art which emphasized the exotic and paradisiacal elements of New Spain.[citation needed] This approach to casta painting dominated the genre until the Bourbon Reforms of the 1760s.[15]

Life and Background
Unfortunately, very few details about de Mena’s life were recorded.[16] His birthplace and date, as well as his own social standing and any specific art school or academy to which he may have belonged to, remain unknown. However, it might be reasonable to speculate that he was a creole or was at least considered legally white due to the strong element of creole pride which was often a hallmark of the genre prior to the 1760s. Mena may also have been a student of, or inspired by,[citation needed] Miguel Cabrera, one of the most famous casta painters. Cabrera had once defended the divinity of the Virgin of Guadalupe,[17] who appears in Mena’s work, and was also a contemporary of de Mena.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Neuerberg, Norman (Spring 1995). "La Madre de la Luz". The Journal of San Diego History. 41 (2). 
  2. ^ Neuerburg, Norman (Spring 1995). Crawford, Richard W., ed. "La Madre Santísima De La Luz". The Journal of San Diego History. 41 (2). Archived from the original on July 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ Bailey, Gauvin Alexander (2005). Colonial Art in Latin America. New York: PhaidonPress. pp. 66–68. 
  4. ^ Bleichmar, Daniela (2012), Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 173 
  5. ^ Deans-Smith, Susan (Winter 2005). "Creating the Colonial Subject: Casta Paintings, Collectors, and Critics in Eighteenth-Century Mexico and Spain". Colonial Latin American Review: 169–204. 
  6. ^ Elena Isabel Estrada de Gerlero,"The Representation of ‘Heathen Indians’ in Mexican Casta Painting." In New World Orders, edited by Ilona Katzew. NY: Americas Society, 1996, 50.
  7. ^ María Concepción García Sáiz. Las castas mexicanas: un género pictórico americano. Milan: Olivetti, 1989, set III; 66–67.
  8. ^ Ilona Katzew, Casta Paintings: Images of Race in Eighteenth-CenturyMexico. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004, 194–195.
  9. ^ María Elena Martínez, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008, dust cover; 257.
  10. ^ Cruz Martínez de la Torre and María Paz Cabello Caro. Museo de América, exhibition catalogue. Madrid: IberCaja/Marot, 1997, 130.
  11. ^ Jeanette Favrot Peterson, Visualizing Guadalupe: From Black Madonna to Queen of the Americas. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014, 256–257.
  12. ^ Nina M. Scott, "Measuring Ingredients: Food and Domesticity in Mexican Casta Paintings." Gastronomica 5, no. 11 (2005): 70–79.
  13. ^ Sarah Cline, “Guadalupe and the Castas: The Power of a Singular Colonial Mexican Painting.” Mexican Studies/Esudios Mexicanos Vol. 31, Issue 2, Summer 2015, pages 218-46.
  14. ^ Deans-Smith, Susan (19 August 2006). "Creating the Colonial Subject: Casta Paintings, Collectors, and Critics in Eighteenth-Century Mexico and Spain". Colonial Latin American Review. 14 (2): 169–204. doi:10.1080/10609160500314980. Retrieved 2013-09-30. 
  15. ^ Katzew, Ilona (2005). Casta Painting. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 109. 
  16. ^ Scott, Nina (Winter 2005). "Measuring Ingredients: Food and Domesticity in Mexican Casta Paintings". Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. 5 (1): 74. doi:10.1525/gfc.2005.5.1.70. JSTOR 10.1525/gfc.2005.5.1.70. 
  17. ^ Katzew, Ilona (2005). Casta Painting. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 17.