Conquest of Mexico Paintings
The Conquest of Mexico paintings are significant both artistically and historically. Painted in the seventeenth century, the eight detailed canvases tell the story of the 1521 Spanish conquest of the native Aztec people. These images highlight battles between the Spanish and the Aztecs, ceremonial encounters of the Spanish conquistador with the emperor Moctezuma, and other pivotal historic moments. The series ends with the dramatic “Conquest of Tenochtitlán” (the capital of the Aztec civilization, now Mexico City) and the capture of the last Aztec king.
The Conquest of Mexico paintings follow the traditional formula for seventeenth-century Spanish battle paintings in which large figures, often on horseback, are highlighted in the foreground, with the actual conflict occurring in the middle and backgrounds. As is typical of such works, each painting is not limited to one moment. Rather, a series of events are compressed onto a single canvas. Painted about 150 years after the events they depict, these canvases are a remarkable record not only of the events of 1521 but the way in which people in the late seventeenth century regarded the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
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