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Descanse en Paz: Memorial Paintings from 19th-Century Mexico

Descanse en Paz: Memorial Paintings from 19th-Century Mexico

April 14 – November 3, 2024

This exhibition highlights two popular genres of 19th-century Mexican painting commemorating family members who no longer reside in the household— offering them a lasting presence in the home. The first intimately portrays deceased individuals in likenesses imbued with grief and tender remembrance. The subjects—often children—are shown full of life: some appear with toys in hand; others rest in peace (descanse en paz). The second genre is the uniquely Mexican monja coronada or “crowned nun” portrait. Images of flower-adorned “Brides of Christ” were commissioned by the families of women who took Catholic ecclesiastical vows and permanently embarked on cloistered lives.

The works on view are a gift from Donald B. and Dorothy M. Cordry, artists and aficionados of Indigenous crafts of Mexico, where they lived in the 1930s–80s. In addition to collecting, the Cordrys assiduously documented and published works on masquerade traditions, clothing styles, and other creative practices.

This presentation is organized by the Fowler Museum at UCLA and curated by Patrick A. Polk, senior curator of Latin American and Caribbean popular arts.

Image: Artist(s) unknown (Mexico), Retrato (portrait) of M.R.M. (Most Reverend Mother) Sor (Sister) María Ángela de la Purísima Concepción, 19th century; paint, canvas, wood, metal; Fowler Museum at UCLA, X87.6a; Gift of Dorothy M. Cordry in memory of Donald B. Cordry


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