Saturday, May 2, 2009

To Conquer History

Looking for history paintings illustrating the great past of the nations I discovered that there are almost no Spanish paintings about conquest of Latin America, probably the most heroic adventure of Spanish history. Sure there are some, but they are more illustrations by inferior painters. It seems that Spanish patriots in the 19th century were occupied by other subjects. America was lost and it seemed better to forget this.

Totally different was the situation in the USA. So was the Capitol rotunda in Washington decorated by the "Frieze of American History", a fresco painting which depicts in 19 scenes the great events from American history. Among these images by the Italian-American painter Constantino Brumidi (1805 – 1880) there can be found three Spanish conquistadores.

Cortez and Montezuma at a Mexican Temple

Pizarro going to Peru

Burial of DeSoto

It’s clear. In the late 19th century it was the USA claiming the great conquistadores as her ancestors, while Spain was still mourning the loss of her empire. Finally in 1992 (500 years Columbus) there was in Spain a new 1,000 pesetas bill showing the two conquistadores: Hernán Cortes and, Francisco Pizarro.

1 comment:

  1. I'm Spanish but never thought of it.
    Are you sure, that there are no Spanish paintings. I think, there must be a lot of Cortez and Pizarro...