Juan Cordero

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Juan Cordero’s painting Columbus at the Court of the Catholic Kings (1850) is a very important piece of art in Mexican History, and personally one of my favorites. Its grandeur conveys the importance of Spanish exploration of the New World, the influence of the Academia de San Carlos on Latin American Art, and portrays the Europeans’ animalistic view of the Indians. The presentation of Native Americans to the King represents the New World merging with the Old World. The painting represents the products of neoclassicism at the Academy. This artwork also contributes to the view Europeans had of Indians at this time. These three aspects of the painting are what I experienced while viewing and studying it. First, this painting represents the discovery…show more content…
Columbus can be seen standing and pointing proudly to his new discovery, which would imply that he believes the Indians will be beneficial to the world. More specifically, it seems to me that he thinks the King will be proud of him for his discovery and appreciate the journey on which he sent Columbus. This positioning of Columbus in contrast to the Indians also seems to slightly objectify them as less than human. Additionally, the light in the painting focuses on the King and Queen, placing the Indians in the shadows of the corner. In the same way, we can see that the Indians and Columbus dress in dark clothes, while everyone else dresses in light clothing. In my eyes, this serves as another reference to the seeming “Godlessness” of the Indians and the desires of the Catholic church to address that issue (169) The choice of placing the Indians in the dark makes them appear to need something that will bring them back into the light, and I believe Cordero intended to imply that they need God. In American Art and Architecture, Oles says that Columbus’ bringing “God to the New World” “appealed to both Conservatives and romantics” (170). This passage shows that main goal of the painting, and most art at this time, was to represent the Catholic influence on art at the Academia de San Carlos, at least initially. Later, however, art at the academy became less focused on religion. Overall, the portrayal of the Indians in this painting is as primarily unknowledgeable and in need of guidance, which is what Columbus appears to give

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