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From Spanish and Indian, Mestizo (De Español y India sale Mestizo)

European Art

On View: Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Gallery, 4th Floor
From Spaniard and Indian Comes Mestizo is an example of casta painting, an eighteenth-century Mexican genre that sought to create order out of an increasingly mixed society by classifying family groups according to race. These works, typically painted for a European market, reinforced Spanish America’s social hierarchy, which placed Spaniards, like the man in this painting, at the top.

Even this tranquil domestic scene of a Spanish father, an Indian mother, and their mestizo child consuming the local beverage pulque, a milky fermented drink made from the sap of the maguey plant, points to the owner’s ulterior interest in so-called limpieza de sangre (“purity of blood”). This reading is reinforced by the racial labels inscribed overhead.

Casta paintings depicted many family groups together in one work (see illustration) or in a series of up to twenty separate canvases like this one.

De Español y Yndia Sale Mestizo es un ejemplo de pintura de casta, género mexicano del siglo XVIII que procuraba encontrar el orden dentro de una sociedad cada vez más variada al clasificar a los grupos familiares de acuerdo a su raza. Estas obras, típicamente pintadas para el mercado europeo, reforzaban la jerarquía social de Hispanoamérica, la que situaba a los españoles, como el hombre en esta pintura, en lo más alto.

Incluso en esta tranquila escena doméstica de un padre español, una madre india y su niño mestizo consumiendo pulque, una bebida lechosa local fermentada hecha de la savia de la planta maguey, indica el interés subrepticio del propietario en la llamada “limpieza de sangre” (pureza sanguínea). Esta lectura se ve reforzada por las etiquetas raciales inscritas sobre la escena.

Las pinturas de casta podían representar a muchos grupos familiares en una sola obra (ver ilustración) o en series de hasta veinte lienzos individuales, como este.

MEDIUM Oil on canvas
DATES early 18th century
DIMENSIONS 31 1/2 x 40 3/16 in. (80 x 102.1 cm) frame: 36 1/4 x 45 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. (92.1 x 115.6 x 7 cm)  (show scale)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Gallery, 4th Floor
CREDIT LINE Bequest of Samuel E. Haslett and Charles A. Schieren, gift of Alfred T. White and Otto H. Kahn through the Committee for the Diffusion of French Art, by exchange
RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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CAPTION Mexican. From Spanish and Indian, Mestizo (De Español y India sale Mestizo), early 18th century. Oil on canvas, 31 1/2 x 40 3/16 in. (80 x 102.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Samuel E. Haslett and Charles A. Schieren, gift of Alfred T. White and Otto H. Kahn through the Committee for the Diffusion of French Art, by exchange , 2011.86.1
IMAGE overall, 2011.86.1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2012
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