Folding Screen with the Siege of Belgrade

This biombo enconchado—which originally included six additional panels, now in Mexico—is the only known work to combine the two elite Mexican genres of biombos (folding screens) and tableros de concha nácar y pintura (shell-inlay paintings, later known as enconchados). Commissioned by José Sarmiento de Valladares, viceroy of New Spain, it was most likely displayed in Mexico’s viceregal palace, where it would have divided a ceremonial state room from a more intimate sitting room. The scene from the Great Turkish War (1683–99) after a Dutch print on its front side was an ideal propagandistic backdrop of Habsburg power for the reception of the viceroy’s official international visitors. The decorative hunting scene on the reverse, also based on a European print source, was better suited for a more intimate room like the cuadra de estrado.