Casta Painting: De Castizo y India produce Coyote

Casta Painting: De Castizo y India produce Coyote

circa 1760
unknown artist
painting, Casta
oil on canvas laid on panel
Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer

Unknown artist, Casta Painting: De Castizo y India produce Coyote, about 1760. Oil paint on canvas laid on panel; 31½ × 24⅜ in. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2013.306.

frame height: 39 in, 99.0600 cm; frame width: 31 1/2 in, 80.0100 cm; frame depth: 1 3/4 in, 4.4450 cm; image height: 31 1/2 in, 80.0100 cm; image width: 24 3/8 in, 61.9125 cm; stretcher height: 32 1/4 in, 81.9150 cm; stretcher width: 25 1/8 in, 63.8175 cm
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art

Invented at the beginning of the 18th century to attempt to scientifically categorize the various racial mixtures occurring in the New World, casta, or caste, paintings are unique to colonial Latin America and depict a family group. This example shows a castizo (three-quarters Spanish, one quarter Indian) man with his full-blood Indian wife and their daughter who is categorized as a coyote. Such casta paintings allow a glimpse of the clothing and customs of the lower classes in colonial Mexico. Both mother and daughter wear the black velvet beauty patches popular among Mexican women of all classes in the 18th century. Probably originally devised to cover smallpox scars, they became a beauty item and the mother here wears an example cut out in rococo design. Both females wear the three-quarter length sleeves with ruffle and pointed bodice popular all over Europe and the Americas (including in the British colonies) in the mid 18th century. The mother wears the traditional Indian rectangular rebozo, or shawl, around her shoulders that was adopted by upper class women in Mexico and even in Spain. The daughter wears another Indian-style garment, the huipil, over her blouse. The mixture of European and native fashions was typical among all classes in colonial Mexico, particularly in the 18th century when women of the upper classes in Europe also dressed in the attire of the lower classes (Marie Antoinette in her milkmaid outift).
-- Donna Pierce, 2015

Known Provenance
Gifted 25 November 2013 by the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer to the Denver Art Museum. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • "Painting a New World: Mexican Art and Life, 1521-1821," April 3 - July 25, 2004, Denver Art Museum.
  • Exhibited, "Telling New Mexico," June 9, 2010 - August 3, 2012, Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, NM