Zócalo (Plaza) of Mexico City
- Pedro Antonio Gualdi, Italian, 7/22/1808 - 1/4/1857
- Born: Italy
- Work Locations: Mexico City, Mexico
- Active Years: 1838-1857
Pedro Antonio Gualdi, Zócalo (Plaza) of Mexico City, 1847. Oil and gouache on paper and canvas; 9½ × 14½ in. Gift of Mrs. Frederic H. Douglas, 1956.72.
This painting on paper is of the main plaza in downtown Mexico City (El Zocalo) which includes the the Cathedral (left) and National Palace (right). As part of the Mexican-American War (1846-48), the United States General Winfield Scott and his troops marched into Mexico City on September 14, 1847 and occupied the Mexican capital, hoisting the U.S. flag over the National Palace, seen here. Despite its small size, this artwork depicts a major moment in history.
This unique painting was created by a New World artist with an equally interesting history. Pietro Antonio Gualdi was born in 1808 in Capri, Italy and studied drawing at the Art Academy of Modena and the Academia de Bellas Artes in Milan, where he went on to become a set painter at the La Scala opera house. In 1835 or 1836 Gualdi traveled to Mexico City as a set designer for the the opera company of the celebrated soprano Madame Albini. While in Mexico Gualdi branched out into printmaking producing a popular "Monuments of Mexico" subscription series beginning in 1839. During the U.S. occupation of Mexico City the ever entrepreneurial Gualdi created commemorative paintings and lithographs to sell to soldiers, seen here. Gualdi left Mexico for New Orleans in 1851 where he painted scenery and worked as an architectural illustrator, designing the classical mausoleum of the Mutual Benefit Society for the city's Italian immigrant population where he was buried upon his death in 1857.
Another version of this painting, with variations, can be found in the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans, http://louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/lsm-lps%3A336
--Anne W. Tennant & Julie Wilson Frick, 2015
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