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Don José María Gómez de Cervantes y Altamirano de Velasco, Count of Santiago de Calimaya

Ignacio Ayala

European Art

Home Luxuries, North and South

Made thousands of miles apart, these two sets of paired objects reveal both similarities and differences between British American and Spanish American luxury goods. Both William Allen and Don José María Gómez de Cervantes y Altamirano de Velasco are depicted in relatively simple standing half-length portraits that belie the wealth and prominence of the two sitters. Allen was the great-grandson of one of Virginia Colony’s most prestigious settlers. Don José María was the descendant of two old, distinguished Creole (American-born Spaniard) families in New Spain, in what would become Mexico.

The two tables share a common design source—The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Director (1754), by the English cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale. The volume contains illustrations of domestic furniture in the popular Rococo style, whose curvilinear silhouettes derive from the court style of Louis XV of France.

The low height of the table on the right reflects the influence of Islamic culture, which permeated Spain during the Middle Ages and was brought to the New World by Spanish colonists. At home in Spanish America, the hostess entertained her female guests in the cuadra de estrado, or women’s sitting room, seated on cushions on the floor around a low table. In contrast, British Americans would have sat on side chairs around a taller tea table such as this tray-top version.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Mexico
  • DATES 1802
    DIMENSIONS 33 x 25 1/8in. (83.8 x 63.8cm) frame: 38 x 30 x 2 in. (96.5 x 76.2 x 5.1 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed and dated lower right " Ygnacio Ayala pto. Mo. a. 1802."
    INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed across the bottom: "El Sor. Dn Joseph Ma Cervantes y Velasco Padilla y Obando, de 17 años de edad./año de 1802."
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Museum Collection Fund and Dick S. Ramsay Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Don Jose Maria Cervantes y Velasco Padilla y Obando (1786-1856). An oil painting sighed by Ygnacio Ayala showing Don Jose Maria at the age of 17 years. He is wearing a green coat embroidered with red. etc. Flowers down the front with a lace jaboe and high stock. He carries his hat under his left arm and his right hand is in his vest. This is a three-quarter view and length with him facing to the left. This Don Jose Maria was one of the signers of the Mexican Act of Independence, and a Brigidier General in the Army of the Republic, and Chancellor of the Mexican Order of Guadalupe. Condition: good
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Ignacio Ayala (Mexican, 1786–1856). Don José María Gómez de Cervantes y Altamirano de Velasco, Count of Santiago de Calimaya, 1802. Oil on canvas, 33 x 25 1/8in. (83.8 x 63.8cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund and Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 52.166.7 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 52.166.7_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 52.166.7_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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