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Constructing Race With Images in Spanish Colonial America

Constructing Race With Images in Spanish Colonial America
MBL Editors

Constructing Race With Images 

By Lorraine Spencer

Pintura de castas

Casta paintings are colonial paintings from the 18th century. They are portraits from Mexico that represent images of mixed race families.  The paintings were used to define the different racial mixes to the Spanish Establishment abroad.

Casta paintings offer images of idealized families that promoted a hierarchical class system or the “sistema de caste” of colonial 18th century society.  That caste system placed European born Spaniards at the top of the hierarchy, a hierarchy that still stands in Mexico and Latin America today.

Even so, the paintings are quite interesting.

There are several books and museum exhibits on Casta paintings in Spanish Colonial America. Most of the pics were found on the Contructing Race with Images  page from the Race in Colonial Mexico Collection (and European Collections) and Unframed.

Christian Protten (1715-1769) and Rebecca (1718-1780) an ex-slave and Moravian convert were married in Germany in 1740; shown also is their child, Anna Maria Protten. Christian is the child of a Danish father and African mother. He as born in Denmark. This gem was found at The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life of the America’s page website. They have many priceless portraits.

(Adaeseño) Espanol and Mulatto castas as depicted by O’Crouley in 1774. http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/adaes/life.html

c. 1725 De Español y Negra produce Mulato (From Spanish man and Black woman, Mulato boy) Paintings of race mixture in colonial Mexico

Private Collection, Breamore House, London, England. race-in-colonial-mexico.net

c. 1725 De Español y Mulata produce Morisca (From Spanish man and Mulata woman, Morisca child). Private Collection, Breamore House, London, England. race-in-colonial-mexico.net

De español y mulata, morisca by Miguel Cabrea, 1763,
bw-wm Casta painting by José de Alcíbar, 1760-1770

 

This is a more comical one of Casta paintings of Spanish and Negra producing Mulatta. Looks like she is trying to box his ears.

 

A Redenção de Cam (The Redemption of Ham)

 

Andrés de Islas, 1774, Note: I notice there are several of the couples fighting. Could this be depicting everyday, normal life or contributing to stereotypes?

Andrés de Islas, 1774

Andrés de Islas, 1774

Andrés de Islas, 1774

Andrés de Islas, 1774

José de Paez

Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, From Spaniard and Morisca, Albino – De español y morisca, albino, c. 1760

Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, From Spaniard and Albino, Return Backwards – De español y albino, torna atrás, c. 1760

Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, From Spaniard and Return Backwards,

Hold Yourself Suspended in Mid Air – De español y torna astrás, tente en el aire, c. 1760

Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, From Spaniard and Albino Return Backwards – De español y albino, torna atrás, c. 1760

De Espanol y negra nace mulato, another fight scene. Notice how the child always intervenes. Anónimo, De español y negra, nace mulata, siglo XVIII, óleo sobre tela. Imagen tomada del libro: México en el mundo de las colecciones del arte, Nueva España 2, México, CONACULTA, UNAM/SRE, 1994, p. 105. http://www.bicentenario.gob.mx/acces/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=435:entre-la-esclavitud-y-la-libertad-&catid=12:independencia&Itemid=26

http://arevalos.blogspot.com/2005/07/las-castas-en-mxico.html

Miguel Cabrera, 4. De español y negra, Mulatta, 1763. Mexico

Juan Rodriguez Juaréz, De español y mulatta produce morisca, 1715. Mexico

Constructing Race with Images
race-in-colonial-mexico.net
A panel from the first known series of casta paintings. Dated c. 1725. Since the panels are not numbered, it may not be a complete set.

Lorraine Spencer is a resourceful, inspiring and motivating relationship coach who helps those in various stages of their life journey. A Christian wife and mother, Lorraine is also an accomplished mentor, life coach strategist, songwriter/lyricist, and author. She is also known as “Swirl Queen” and “Forensicmommy”. Lorraine is a Hoosier by birth. She has lived in many states lending her experience to meet many people from different regions of the country and world. Lorraine has made a home with her family in Los Angeles, California. When not coaching, writing, in conferences or out on long walks, Lorraine enjoys spending time with her family and watching movies.