The History of Spanish Art paper


The History of Spanish Art

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Art objects have different meanings and represent certain things that may be important to the artist. An artist’s work of art conveys a message to its audience, and it may be of value or in remembrance of something. Spanish American art dates back to the 16th century when they got into contact with the Spaniards. Spanish American artists got inspiration from the happenings during colonization by Spain to produce their art. It was different from the normal European display of art. Their art also had an impact on their culture and political happenings. In general, these objects of art were a way of conveying messages or for personal use.

After colonization by Spain, New Spain, which is now modern Mexico, underwent various changes in their lives that the new rules made by Spain brought about. Like the introduction of Christianity, adjustments to their culture led to a change in religion and cultural practices. They also had immigrants from Asia, which led to mixed-race people due to intermarriages. Most especially in what they initially believed in, all these changes were represented or rather portrayed in art. It was a form of remembrance or preservation of what happened in the old world.

The collections in Franz Mayer Museum are artistic objects that show society’s cultural development. These objects were the early modern objects that showed the mutation of culture. For example, object 7 shows the portrait of an Indian young lady before she took her vows and got recruited in the convent.[1]. This was a tradition in New Spain. The lady’s attire and its decorations were a mixture of Asian and European accessories. It also showed women’s modern fashion in New Spain. The object showed the cultural assimilation of the people of New Spain by Asian immigrants. It also showed that art was used as a form of remembrance of something or someone of value.

In the early years, Asians transported their products to New Spain and conducted trade in some ports and cities. This immigration was brought about by the Spanish, who transported them from their countries. Some of them were even given licenses to conduct their trade in New Spain. This was after their settlement in various zones, which led to intermarriages thus cultural exchange. The intermarriages resulted in cultural exchange, but during the trade, there was economic exchange too since the Asians sold objects from their land that portrayed their way of life. As a result, the people of New Spain adopted the culture bringing rise to norms that still apply to date.

Some of the Asian immigrants worked in textile workshops, sugar mills, or silver mines. The immigrants used skills obtained from some of these workplaces to make beds, desks, and chests. For example, object 20 shows a writing desk with secret compartments used to store documents, writing materials, and small treasures.[2]. With time its design changed, leading to more cultural meaning and representation. Object 22 portrays the drawing of a small curved lid trunk which was said to be the household furniture. Its craftsmanship was said to be due to the influence of the Moorish. Its iron fittings were said to be of high quality[3]. The carvings and designs used in these objects show the level of skill and creativity used, which was applied in early modern times. The objects portray the influence of immigrants and how they valued their culture and made them visible.

The Africans who were also transported mostly as slaves also got involved in the trade and the activities involving making the objects to be sold. Different people from the different continents all proved their craftsmanship in the objects they manufactured. Object 27 shows a chest with a curved lid[4]. The carvings in the chest is a mixture of European, African Indian and Portuguese influence. The skin colour of the two men doing boar hunting is of African origin although the activity is of Europeans. The colourfully dyed fibbers were said to come from the Philippines although it may have been made from India. This art of work shows diversification and how different cultures influenced the other. They used different skills from various cultures and put them together to produce something exquisite and useful.

The collections of Franz Mayer shows the happenings during colonization and after. The carvings or designs of those objects have historical meaning and are still viewed in the modern world as remembrance. The objects were manufactured by different influences from various groups of people; Chinese, Philippines, Indians, Africans, Mexicans and Europeans. Although there was competition among some of the groups, still they blended them together in various objects through their skills. Some objects made in the old world were later an inspiration to manufacture those that fit the modern or new world.

The collections in the museum all said much about the historical happenings in the early years and after colonization. They showed the extent of globalization and diversification. Some of the American cities where certain groups settled in were connected to Mexico bringing about economic and cultural exchange. Some of the groups that settled in different zones of the country made it their home to date. For example China town. The Chinese settled in one of the zones making it their base area. To date the Chinese still settle there and they are the majority in that town.

Each object in the Franz Mayer museum shows work of art of the groups and what they represented. Some of them however, replaced other groups’ work or skill with what they thought were of quality or looked better. An example is object 69 which is a jar made in the style of Chinese porcelain[5]. The pattern on the jar was inspired by the Islamic structures that replaced the old strategy. The Islamic structures replaced the Chinese model. This proves that as the objects were manufactured, more cultural influences were used to perfect it and make it more modern or of quality.

The Spanish American artistic elements and patterns used in the early years kept on improving in quality and presented the works of various groups from different continents. Some of these elements also showed how the works of these groups merged resulted to something of meaning and the proof of good skills. The collections showed objects used in various places and for various usage. Some of them had political meaning like object 58 which shows a platter with Mexico City’s shield at the centre. It was said to be used in the Mexican government which proves a political representation.

The Franz Mayer museum has quite a number of pieces that shows the beginning of globalization in the early modern times. The fact that they were influenced by culture of immigrants and some by the Spanish in the old world is evident. The collections in the museum represents various way of life of the early immigrants in Mexico. The products used to make the objects represented in those collections were from some Asian countries which made them of noticeable quality.









Hector Rivero Borrell, Gustavo Curiel, Antonio Rubial García, Juana Gutiérrez Haces, and David B. Warren. The Grandeur of Viceregal Mexico: Treasures from the Museo Franz Mayer.Mexico City: Museo Franz Mayer, 2002

[1] Hector Rivero Borrell, Gustavo Curiel, Antonio Rubial García, Juana Gutiérrez Haces, and David B. Warren. The Grandeur of Viceregal Mexico: Treasures from the Museo Franz Mayer.Mexico City: Museo Franz Mayer, 2002


[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

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