Friday, September 29, 2023


Sunday, January 23, 2022

Madam Mayo Blog Update

This blog is posting on Mondays at  

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Madam Mayo Blog Update

Update: It's turning out to be quite a project to migrate the posts over to the new self-hosted Wordpress blog,, but I'm working on it. In the meantime, I hope you will visit the archives of this blog, and also the posts tagged #Mexico at .

Friday, May 24, 2019

Update: "Madam Mayo" Blog's "Mexico" Page

The past few months have been taken up with various projects, among them, a batch of website and blog redesigns and overhauls. From here on out any posts apropos of Maximilian, Carlota, the general period, and my various works about it, will be posted at my main blog, Madam Mayo, and archived under "Mexico."

One of the excellent things about having launched the migration of "Madam Mayo" from blogger to self-hosted WordPress is that I finally figured out how to make "pages," so there is a now a page devoted to all posts on Mexico. That page, of course, includes a link to this blog / archive.

Again, look for new posts over at Madam Mayo, category "Mexico," and with tags including "Maximilian."

This blog archive here on blogger will remain as is for as long as Google allows it. There is also a rich resource page for researchers on my main webpage,, "Maximilian."

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Portrait of Maximilian

Thanks to my correspondent, R., who spotted this in El Universal, a Mexico City newspaper: A portrait of Maximilian has been auctioned by Mortons for 450,000 pesos, about USD 20,000. 

The article notes that the portrait comes with a letter of 1865 from Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, thanking don Angel Bustamente for his services to the Emperor. This was probably for his hospitality on one of Maximilian's tours. If I could get to my copy of Konrad Ratz and Amparo Temexicuapan's book on Maximilain's travels I could probably figure out the specifics.

Almonte was a prime mover in bringing Maximilian to Mexico and, in 1865, he served as Mariscal de la Corte, or Court Chamberlain.

There are probably a good number of these portraits floating about Mexico... I have yet to see one displayed anyone's living room, however.

I wonder what its new owner plans to do with it?

A tidbit of a memory comes to mind. When I first came to Mexico and started work at ITAM, a private university, back in the 1980s, the office I inherited included a large closet, and inside that I found a portrait of Karl Marx. It was swiftly removed by its owner, who taken a better, corner office. He liked to joke that he was a closet Marxist. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017


Back when.... many years ago.... when I was researching my novel I paid more than I would ever like to admit to get my hands on a xerox copy of the three volume set of the English translation of Maximilian's Recollections of My Life. Behold, gentle reader and avid researcher, it is now available for free on

Alas, although nonetheless very interesting, and providing a window onto innumerable topics, and his complex and exhuberant personality, Maximilian's recollections are about his travels from 1851- 1860, before coming to Mexico.

Vol. I covers Italy, then Andalusia and Granada

Vol. II. covers Messina, Palermo, Syracuse, The Balearic islands, Valencia and Murcia, Lisbon, Madeira, Algiers, Albania, and under the title "Across the Line," a journey from the Adriatic out the Straights of Gibraltar and towards South America.

Vol. III covers Brazil

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Language of the Correspondence of Maximilian and Carlota

Those of you who follow this blog will have noted that the posts have become infrequent. My novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire is now eight years old, and its Spanish translation by Agustin Cadena, El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano, is seven years old, and I have since moved on to the other projects, among them, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution (2014), "Dispatch from the Sister Republic or, Papelito Habla" (2017), and the book I aim to finish in 2018, World Waiting for a Dream: A Turn in Far West Texas. But gentle reader, please be assured, I will be maintaining this blog indefinitely. I appreciate your emails! Whenever some topic, event, or publication comes up that might be of interest to the general community of researchers on this most labyrinthian and fascinatingly transnational period of Mexican history, as often as possible, I will continue to post a note (or more) here.

This year has been an tumultuous one for me with multiple household moves, so I have fallen more than a bit behind with both my correspondence and my blogs. However, now that I have been able to move my library out of its jumble of cardboard boxes and into roomier quarters on nicely dusted and neatly labeled shelves, I am finally -- joy!!-- able to consult any given book with ease.

Recently, but when my library was still in its muddle of boxes, a writer friend, Amigo G., asked me if I knew, in which language did Maximilian and Carlota converse with each other? Immediately I recalled Konrad Ratz's book, Correspondencia inédita entre Maximiliano y Carlota (Unpublished Correspondence of Maximilian and Carlota), which is the authoritative answer to that subject. Now that this tome is on its properly labeled shelf, from which I can easily pull it out and have a look, I hereby offer up this brief post.

Originally published in German in 2000, Konrad Ratz's Correspondencia inédita entre Maximiliano y Carlota was published by Fondo de Cultura Económica in Mexico in 2003, translated into Spanish by Elsa Cecilia Frost. (Alas, I am unaware of any English translation.) The original documents are in the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin.

No one was there to spy on them with a recording device but I should think it would be safe to assume that, in private, Maximilian and Carlota would have conversed in German, his native language and the language in which they wrote to each other. And happily for us, Maximilian and Carlota wrote to each other often, for they were often apart, traveling on official business. Writes Ratz (my translation from the Spanish translation, p. 42):

"The first surprise is the quantity of the correspondence. Whenever they were apart Maximilian and Carlota wrote to each other almost daily. The private character of this correspondence is shown by their having written in their own hand and in German. Carlota used her "paternal language"* in which she makes certain grammatical and spelling mistakes, for example with articles and tenses. Some phrases are literally translated from French, her maternal language** in which she thought. Taking this into account it is astonishing how fluently she writes in German, which of course she learned from intensive reading. Here and there appear turns of phrase in French, Italian, English and Spanish." 

*Her father was King Leopold of Belgium, born the fourth son of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, whose native language was German.  
** Her mother was Marie-Louise of Orléans, daughter of Louis-Philippe, who abdicated the French throne in 1848.

In his prologue Dr. Ratz thanks his wife Herta for her assistance in deciphering the Gothic handwriting. It is my firm view that anyone who deciphers Gothic handwriting deserves a literary sainthood and a small altar with flowers refreshed daily. (I am not kidding! If you should ever feel so moved as to give yourself a prize-winning migraine, 30 seconds of attempting to read Gothic handwriting, that's the ticket.)

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Luis Reed Torres's New Book, El Libertador sin patria (The Liberator Without a Country)

This is a mirror post from my main blog, Madam Mayo:

If you haven't heard of Agustín de Iturbide, he is Mexico's George Washington-- but it's complicated.

Last Thursday in the Club de Industriales in Mexico City historian Luis Reed Torres presented his latest book, 
El Libertador sin patria (The Liberator without a Country), a most extraordinary and illuminating collection of 19th century texts about Agustín de Iturbide, many of which he rescued from the deepest, mustiest recesses of the archives. For anyone interested in Mexican history, El Libertador sin patria is a must-read work, and a must-have reference.

For anyone interested in the Second Empire (reign of Maximilian) and the French Intervention, it is crucially important to understand the context, and the First Empire, which is the reign of Agustin de Iturbide.

I hope to post a link to where you can find El Libertador sin patria on-line very soon. In the meantime, for your reference, the ISBN is 978-607-97750-0-1.

Read my prologue in English

Read my prologue in Spanish

My prologue goes into detail about the relationship of Maximilian and the Iturbide Family.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tulpa Max or, The Afterlife of a Resurrection (On the 150th Anniversary of the Execution of Maximilian)

Over on my main blog, Madam Mayo, I just posted about a new essay in Catamaran Literary Reader and (in Spanish) in Letras Libres, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Maximilian's execution.

Letras Libres, one of Mexico's finest magazines, has a special section in this month's issue which includes, I am delighted to report, my own essay on Maximilian von Habsbug, "Tulpa Max. La vida después de una resurrección".  ("Tulpa Max or, The Afterlife of a Resurrection.") 

It's a riff on writing historical fiction-- and my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (Unbridled Books, 2009), which was beautifully translated by Mexican writer Agustín Cadena as El último principe del Imperio mexicano (Random House Mondadori-Grijalbo, 2010).... [CONTINUE READING]

Saturday, November 5, 2016

"To Remember, To Understand": Transcript of a Keynote Speech On Researching and Writing The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire

Waaaay back in 2010-- Mexico's bicentennial year-- I gave the keynote speech for the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Harry Ransom Center University of Texas Austin, and ever since I have been meaning to post the transcript. Herewith:

Transcript of keynote for the meeting of the Board of Directors
Harry Ransom Center University of Texas Austin
April 22, 2010

It is such an honor and a delight to be here tonight. First a big thank you to Thomas Staley, Director of the Harry Ransom Center, and Danielle Brunne Sigler, Curator of Academic Affairs. And another big thank you, de corazón, to Mexico's Consul General here in Austin, Ambassador Rosalba Ojeda.

It was right here, in the Harry Ransom Center, that Ambassador Ojeda invited me to view the letters of Mexico's Emperor and Empress, Maximilian and Carlota if you haven't seen these extraordinary documents, you will they are in the wonderful exhibition "Viva Mexico's Independence."

This year, 2010, is a very special year to be celebrating Mexico's Independence, for it is both the bicentennial of Independence and the centennial of the Revolution. Sandwiched in between Independence and the Revolution is the 1860s, the time of Mexico's ferociously resisted second experiment in the monarchical form of government. This is the subject of my novel based on the true story: The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire.

Mexico had a prince? 


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

On Seeing as an Artist or, Five Techniques for a Journey to Einfühlung

This is the transcript of my remarks for the panel "Writing Across Borders and Cultures" on October 15, 2016 at the Women Writing the West Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It includes a brief reading from The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire.

How many of you have been to Mexico? Well, viva Mexico! Here we are in New Mexico, Nuevo México. On this panel, with Dawn Wink and Kathryn Ferguson, it seems we are all about Mexico.
I write both fiction and nonfiction, most of it about Mexico because that is where I have been living for most of my adult life— that is, the past 30 years— married to a Mexican and living in Mexico City. 
But in this talk I would like to put on my sombrero, as it were, as an historical novelist, and although my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, is about Mexico, I don’t want to talk so much about Mexico as I do five specific, simple, powerful techniques that have helped me, and that I hope will help you to see as an artist and write across borders and cultures. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

In Cuernavaca's Historic Jardín Borda


In the winter of 1866 Maximilian brought his court to his Imperial Residence in Cuernavaca, what is today the Centro Cultural Jardín Borda. This past Friday July 1, 2016, I participated on a panel for the presentation Mexican historian and novelist José N. Iturriaga's latest anthology, Otros cien forasteros en Morelos. Here is the note about that from my main blog, Madam Mayo:

To see one's own country through the scribbles of foreigners can be at once discomfiting and illuminating. Of course, out of naiveté and presumption, foreigners get many things dead-wrong;  they also get many things confoundingly right. Like the child who asked why the emperor was wearing no clothes, oftentimes they point at things we have been blind to: beauty and wonders, silliness, perchance a cobwebby corner exuding one skanky stink. [...CONTINUE READING]

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Transcript Now Available: Monarchy in Mexico: An Interview with M.M. McAllen About MAXIMILIAN AND CARLOTA

At long last the complete transcript of my interview with historian M.M. McAllen about her splendid narrative history, Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico is now on-line. You can also listen in to the podcast anytime on either iTunes or podomatic, and yes, both the transcript and the podcast are free. 

I have been away from this blog in recent months because I have been at work on a book about Far West Texas. I hope to share news about that soon. The Abbé Domenech, who served as Maximilian's press secretary, will make a fleeting appearance. 

More anon. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Conversation with M.M. McAllen About Her Book, Maximilian and Carlota

Happy New Year! Just posted: A Conversation with M.M. McAllen, which is number 8 in my occasional podcast series "Conversations with Other Writers," about her magnificent narrative history Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico, published by Trinity University Press in 2014.

My blurb: 

"A deeply researched book about a period of Mexican history that, while vital for understanding modern Mexico and its relations with the United States and Europe, is of perhaps unparalleled cultural, political, and military complexity for such a short period."

William H. Beezeley, coeditor of The Oxford History of Mexico says:

"A thorough, complete history of Mexico's second empire. The author leaves nothing untouched."

And Luis Alberto Urrea says:

"M.M. McAllen has written an important book that not only reads like a novel of fantastic inventions but is key to understanding the soul of Mexico today."

> Listen in to this podcast any time here.

I'll be posting a complete transcript shortly.

>Visit M.M. McAllen at her website

> Listen in to all the other Conversations with Other Writers and/or read their transcripts here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Professor Patricia Galeana in the Centro de Estudios de la Historia de México

You can now listen in anytime to Professor Galeana's talk (in Spanish) for the Centro de Estudios de la Historia de México in Mexico City on November 18, 2015. Dr Galeana is a leading historian of the second Empire and her talk should prove invaluable for anyone researching this tumultuous period.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Maximilian's Decrees in Nahuatl

Just out in Spanish: De la A a la Z: El conocimiento de las lenguas de México (Instituto Nacional de Antropologia y Historia, 2015) a collection of essays edited by Rodrigo Martínez Baracs and Salvador Rueda Smithers. There is no English translation, but should that come to pass, the title might be From A to Z: Knowledge of the Languages of Mexico.

The last chapter is by an author scholars of the second Empire will immediately recognize: Amparo Gómez Tepexicuapan: "Los decretos en náhuatl del emperador Maximiliano" or, Emperor Maximilian's Decrees in Nahuatl. Nahuatl is the language of the Nahuas, the largest group of indigenous people in Mexico and which includes the Mexica, also known as the Aztecs. 

Gómez Tepexicuapan also introduces us to Maximilian's translator, Don Faustino Chimalpopoca Galicia (1805-1877), a professor of the Nahuatl language in the University of Mexico and a supporter of the monarchy, as were so many other indigenous peoples. Of note, one of Carlota's maids of honor (damas de palacio) was Doña Josefa Varela, a descendant of Nezahualcóyotl.

From page 250 (my translation) Gómez Tepexicuapan writes:

"The publication of these decrees in Nahuatl shows Maximilian's great interest in the indigenous peoples. He knew from the beginning that using their language would be the surest way to communicate with his subjects, as in the deeply-rooted custom in the Austro-Hungarian Empire."

While the chapter is 11 pages, its importance makes this anthology an essential addition to any library on the Second Empire. You can find a copy from CONACULTA and also look for it in WorldCatISBN 978-607-484-646-1

See also:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Carlota's Visit to Yucatán: VIAJE A YUCATAN por Carlota de Bélgica, prólogo de José N. Iturriaga

Por Carlota de Bélgica
Prólogo de José N. Iturriaga
CONACULTA, México, 2011
ISBN 978-607-455-680-3
[You should be able to find a copy on and/or look it up on World Cat.]

Ever since it was published in 2011 I have been meaning to post a note about this handsome little book-- little indeed at a mere 75 pages, but nonetheless a vital contribution to the literature on the period.

In November of 1865, for the monarchists, the political and military circumstances in Mexico had begun to deteriorate to such degree that Maximilian could not leave the capital for the few weeks his much-anticipated state visit to Yucatán would have required. In his stead he sent his empress, Carlota. 

Less than a year from when she would suffer a permanent psychotic breakdown, Carlota reported on this exotic, politically crucial and physically dangerous journey-- a report I had the privilege to read in her own remarkably clear and steady handwriting, preserved in the archives in Vienna and, by the way, in a copy in the Library of Congress in Washington DC [where you will find it there under "Kaiser Maximilian von Mexiko" in the Manuscripts Division]. 

It always seemed strange to me that Carlota's report on the Yucatán languished in the archives. I was glad indeed to see this edition brought out by Mexico's CONACULTA and with a thoughtful introduction by Mexican historian José N. Iturriaga

(Stranger still to me was a visit to Brussels about a decade ago, to an exhibition of Aztec and Mayan artworks where I found not a single mention of Carlota's visit, nor of her report.)

Here is my translation of the book's back cover:

María Carlota Amalia Agustina Victoria Clementina Leopoldina de Saxe-Coburg y Orleáns Boubon- Deux-Siciles y de Habsbourg-Lorraine, daughter of King Leopold I and Queen Louise of Belgium, was born on June 7, 1840. Carlota was the first cousin of Queen Victoria of English and, on her mother's side, granddaughter of King Louis Philippe of France. In 1857 Carlota married the Archduke Maximilian of Austria. She arrived in Mexico with him in 1864.
Summa Mexicana here presents a series of 24 texts written by Carlota between 1865 and 1866 in which she describes her visit as Empress of Mexico to the Yucatán peninsula.
In telegrams, speeches, reports, letters and notes, some to her husband and others to diplomats and family members, we discover the personality, at times simple, of a singular woman who is remembered in Mexico in myriad ways.
Carlota of Belgium died on January 19, 1927 at almost 87 years of age in the country of her birth.
More anon. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual

As the title says, my latest book is about Francisco I. Madero's Spiritist philosophy and the Mexican Revolution, which he launched in 1910-- more than thirty years after Maximilian's infamous demise on the Cerro de las Campanas in Querétaro. So it might seem that this has zip to do with Maximilian and the so-called Second Empire. Au contraire.

Although Metaphysical Odyssey is nonfiction, and intended to represent a serious scholarly contribution to the literature of the Revolution,  it is also, to a degree, a personal memoir, for I write as a novelist, that is, as one who comes at the subject having written fiction about Mexico's Second Empire, and, as with my fiction, in this I attempt a work of literary art per se

I am happy to report that the reviews for Metaphsyical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution have been good, including a lengthy one by José Mariano Leyva in Letras Libres, and that the book won the National Indie Excellence Award for History. 

I invite you to visit the book's website in English or in Spanish.  Both sites offer excerpts, links to find the book on amazon and Barnes & Noble, etc, as well as extensive resources for researchers. Among them are the podcast of my recent talk for UCSD Center for US-Mexican Studies and an interview with the leading esoteric podcast, "Occult of Personality", hosted by Greg Kaminsky.

Leyva, by the way, is the author of the excellent El ocaso de los espíritus. El espiritismo en México en el siglo XIX. Ediciones Cal y Arena, 2005. It seems that Kardec's books on Spiritism came to Mexico with the French Intervention of the 1860s. More about that anon. 

Also in the pipeline for this blog: a note about Empress Carlota's state visit to Yucatán in 1865 and an in-depth interview with Mary Margaret McAllen, the author of Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico.

Monday, February 2, 2015

An Interview with Mexican Historian Alan Rojas Orzechowski about Maximilian's Court Painter, Santiago Rebull

He was Maximilian's Court Painter, a leading figure in 19th century Mexican painting, and one of the important influences on Diego Rivera, yet few people have heard of Santiago Rebull until now.
Santiago Rebull: The Outlines of a Story
at the Museum of the Diego Rivera Mural in Mexico City
Through February 15, 2015

If you're anywhere near Mexico City, make the effort to come in and visit the Santiago Rebull show at the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. >> More information here. << For those aficionados of the history of the French Intervention, and in particular the brief reign of Maximilian von Habsburg as Emperor of Mexico, this is an especially important show not to miss, for Rebull was Maximilian's Court Painter and, interestingly, one of the few individuals close to the monarchy who managed to remain in Mexico and even thrive in subsequent decades under the Republic.
Herewith, my interview with the show's curator, Mexican historian Alan Rojas Orzechowski.

Santiago Rebull
Self-portrait, 1852
C.M. MAYO: What gave you the idea for the show?
ALAN ROJAS ORZECHOWSKI: The exhibitionSantiago Rebull: Los contornos de una historia (Santiago Rebull: The Outlines of a Story) presented in the Museo Mural Diego Rivera is our own way to pay homage to one of the most creative minds of the Academic Movement in Mexico, an illustrious painter and educator who molded the minds of pupils such as Roberto Montenegro, Ángel Zárraga and Diego Rivera.

As an outstanding teacher, he taught Diego Rivera as a young student in the San Carlos Academy of Arts. Rivera in return, always considered him as a mentor and guide, respecting him as both, as an instructor and fellow artist. Exploiting this connection, the Museo Mural Diego Rivera and external curator Magaly Hernández, thought suitable to present an exhibition which honored Rebull´s artwork, underlining his influence on Rivera and his generation.

CMM: How did Santiago Rebull, so close to Maximilian, manage to remain in Mexico and continue working as a successful artist for decades afterwards?
Santiago Rebull
La muerte de Marat, 1875
ARO: I personally think that it was his undeniable talent as an artist which enabled him to continue teaching in San Carlos Academy during three more decades. In the immediate years after Maximilian's fall he did receive severe reproaches from fellow artists and local newspapers as a monarchist and “afrancesado” (pro-French), but he carried on painting members of the political, economic and cultural elite. As a testament of this, the portraits of Presidents Benito Juárez and Porfirio Díaz are shown in the exhibition. Both pieces are dated in the 1870s, less than a decade after the monarch´s disgrace.
He retained his position as a teacher in San Carlos and also imparted drawing lessons to female pupils in the Colegio de Vizcaínas which was the only female and secular school in Mexico throughout the XVIII and XIX centuries. Along with his academic career, he remained a prolific painter, authoring remarkable pieces such as La muerte de Marat (Marat's Death) and several portraits.

CMM: What has been the reaction from art historians and historians of the Second Empire?
ARO: The Academic reaction towards the Second Empire, from both, historians and art historians, has changed through time. During the first half of the XX Century, the posture was very much aligned to the official history, characterized by a nationalist stance in which Maximilian was portrayed as an invader and many of his actions as an imposition to Mexicans. Nevertheless, this has shifted to a fascination for both, Maximilian and Charlotte, partly thanks to literature. En example of this, the book Noticias del Imperio(News from the Empire) by Fernando del Paso or The Last Prince of the Mexican Empireby C.M. Mayo. 
Historians have now a much more benevolent gaze to the Second Empire, emphasizing on Maximilian's liberal measures that assisted the indigenous groups and regulated Ecclesiastic influence on civilianswhich certainly made him unpopular with his original supporters.
Art historians tend to be cautious with their judgments, stressing the continuity on San Carlos Academy trough its curriculum, academic cluster and board, all of them dramatically modified with the Republic's restoration. For instance, Eduardo Báez Macías, in his volume History of the National School of Fine Arts (Old San Carlos Academy), mentions Maximilian's patronizing attitude towards Mexican art, believing it to be provincial to what he was used to in Europe.  
My personal view is the opposite. Maximilian was a very intelligent ruler, he was aware of the necessity of his government's legitimacy, and knew that the main way to achieved it was through art and Court protocol. In the first case, he arose from the liberal vs. conservative´s discussion over national heroes and entrusted several talented young artists to create a portrait gallery of the libertadores, including characters such as Hidalgo and Iturbide along. Also, in several Imperial projects he preferred to employ talented Mexican students over well-known established European teachers as Eugenio Landesio or Pelegrín Clavé.

CMM: Which of all the 68 pieces do you consider the most essential for understanding Rebull and his place in Mexican art?
Santiago RebullLa muerte de Abel, 1851
ARO: Santiago Rebull is one of the most relevant XIX century painters in Mexico's history. He is a fundamental artist of the Academicism generation, and keystone to understanding the shift in the Art Scene towards the Vanguards and the Mexican Painting School of XX century, since he was an inexhaustible teacher to many of its participants. 
One of Santiago Rebull's anchor pieces isLa muerte de Abel (Abel's Death). It was painted in 1851 and earned him a scholarship to travel to Rome. He there attended the San Lucas Academy, a conservative catholic art school that followed the principles of the Nazarene Movement, specially influenced by the German painter Johann Friedrich Overbeck.
Rebull studied under the guidance of Academic artist Thomaso Consoni, who molded and perfected his technique through a careful series of exercises consisting on copying masterpieces from Renaissance maestros
Therefore, La muerte de Abel best represents the Academic ideals of trace, color use and proportions so faithfully followed by Rebull. 

CMM: Was it difficult to find these 68 pieces, and were there any you couldn’t get for the show that you wish you had?
Santiago Rebull
El sacrificio de Isaac, 1859
ARO: Unfortunately there was a piece we were unable to obtain, El sacrificio de Isaac (Isaac's Sacrifice) painted in 1858 during his sojourn in Italy and displayed in the Centennial Exposition of Philadelphia and later shown in New Orleans. The image is almost 118 inches tall and it’s a flawless sample of Rebull´s work during this formative voyage under Consoni's guidance. Alas, it was a crucial piece in the National Museum of Art (MUNAL), therefore, they were unable to lend it.
It was relatively unproblematic to secure the greater part of the assortment since it belongs to the painter's descendants, most of them eager to promote their ancestor's work. The rest of the pieces were graciously provided by significant institutions such as the San Carlos Academy, the National Museum of Art and the Colegio de Vizcaínas.
CMM: Was the museum at Il Castillo di Miramar involved in any way? (The original of Rebull's portrait of the Emperor Maximilian was sent there, is that right?)
Joaquín Ramírez
Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I, ca. 1866. 
ARO: The original full length portrait of Maximilian was painted by Santiago Rebull in 1865. The Emperor took such pleasure on it that resulted on the appointment of Rebull as court painter; he was also awarded the Order of Guadalupe, the Empire's uppermost honor. 
The monarch relocated the painting in Miramar Castle in Trieste, Italy that same year. Nonetheless he commissioned Joaquín Ramírez, another Academic painter to produce an exact copy of his portrait. Currently, the latter is part of the National Institute of Fine Arts collection and it's shown at Chapultepec Castle. We exhibit a contemporary reproduction of Ramírez painting.

CMM: The decorative bacchantes that Rebull painted for Chapultepec Castle-- were these Maximilian's idea or the artist's? What do you think was the message of such decorative paintings?
Santiago Rebull
Bacante para la terraza 
del Alcázar de Chapultepec, 1894.
ARO: The decorative bacchantes of Miravalle (Chapultepec) Castle were the Emperor's idea but Rebull only painted four of them during Maximilian's reign since the remaining two were created later, during President Porfirio Díaz administration when he occupied the castle as his summer residence.
The message behind the bacchantes is clear: the ideal of graciousness that courtesan life implied. Maximilian was convinced that through art and elaborate court rituals his regime would gain the legitimacy and acceptance of Mexican elites. The creation of new titles, honors and reinstated old colonial titles were strategies followed by the sovereign. Thus, art and protocol were undeniably intertwined in the imperial residences. In the words of art historian Justino Fernández “Rebull planned six bacchantes figures […] the romanticism of the epoch finds here one of its classical expressions, these women, or better said, demigoddesses, highly idealized, wear the magnificence of their figure, in a movement attitude.” *

*Justino Fernández. El arte del siglo XIX en México, Mexico, Imprenta Universitaria, 1967,  p. 77.

CMM: What do you consider Rebull's most essential achievements as an artist?
Santiago Rebull
Portrait of Porfirio Díaz, 
ARO: His personal career is bound to the history of San Carlos Academy; we may consider him as a founding painter of Mexican art of the first decades of independence, when the elite and middle classes were shaping an identity of their own, which they found in the expressions of Academicism and Neoclassic Art. 
He perfected his education with the European sojournnot remaining solely in Rome, but traveling extensively through Spainand returned with a refined paintbrush imbibed by Purism and Nazarene precepts. The preparative drawings are a testament of Rebull´s expertise of trace and copying, the two cornerstone of a XIX century Academic education. 
Upon his return he grew as a prolific portraitist, the most important being that of Emperor Maximilian. But his talent was enjoyed not only by royals; both Presidents Benito Juárez and Porfirio Díaz were also depicted by the artist. The latter, is embodied as a young aspiring president, unlike later representations where an elderly and heavily ornamented military men is shown. Furthermore, common and quotidian characters were also portrayed by him.

Santiago Rebull
Portrait of an unknown man, undated

CMM: Why is the show in the Museo de Diego Rivera? Can you talk a little about Rebull's influence on Diego Rivera?

Santiago Rebull
Profeta Elymar, 1853
Diego Rivera
Cabeza masculina, 1900
ARO: Since the Museo Mural Diego Rivera has the commitment of preserving Diego Rivera's legacy, promoting the artistic expressions created during the XX century and especially those influenced by Rivera himself, we thought there was a great breach with his predecessors. Who were they? Who particularly influenced him?
Rivera was educated at the San Carlos Academy of Arts in Mexico City where he was an accomplished student, tutored by the great artists of the XIX century Academic movement. He received a refined instruction from painters such as José Salomé Pina, José María Velasco and Santiago Rebull. Diego always felt in debt towards the latter, recognizing him as his mentor.


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