Portrait of Don Francisco de Orense y Moctezuma, Conde de Villalobos

Portrait of Don Francisco de Orense y Moctezuma, Conde de Villalobos

unknown artist
Mexican School
painting, portrait
Oil paint on canvas.
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer

Unknown artist, Portrait of Don Francisco de Orense y Moctezuma, Conde de Villalobos, 1761. Oil paint on canvas; 74 × 59 in. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 2011.427.

canvas height: 74 in, 187.9600 cm; canvas width: 59 in, 149.8600 cm; frame height: 78 3/8 in, 199.0725 cm; frame width: 63 1/2 in, 161.2900 cm; frame depth: 2 in, 5.0800 cm
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art
This object is currently on view

As in Europe, portraiture became extremely popular in the Americas, particularly in Mexico, in the 18th century.  The young man in this portrait was a descendant of the Aztec emperor, Moctezuma, on both sides of his upper-class family.  During the early days of Spanish entry into Mexico and prior to hostilities, Moctezuma married several of his daughters and nieces to Spaniards, including Cortés and many of his officers.  Throughout the colonial period, the offspring of these unions proudly claimed their Aztec nobility and married into upper-class Spanish families.  Ironically, the Moctezuma family became Hispanicized to the extent that when Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1821 most descendants of Moctezuma moved to Spain, where this portrait was collected.
     Not only is the young man in this painting a double descendant of Moctezuma, he also carries the Spanish title of Count of Villalobos.  The only son in his family, he died at an early age since the inscription states that this is a posthumous portrait.  Dated 1761, the portrait shows an elegant young man dressed in a stylish three-piece suit of exquisitely patterned fabrics.  He wears a powdered wig and the tip of his sword is visible through the back split in his jacket.  The devoted dog at his feet watches his every move.  The composition with tiled floor, draped curtain and open window is typical of European and American portraits.  In Mexico, the landscape seen through the window often reflects a tropical atmosphere, as shown here.
--Donna Pierce, 2015

Known Provenance
Gifted 29 December 2011 by the Frederick and Jan Mayer Collection to the Denver Art Museum. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail provenance@denverartmuseum.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • Exhibited 2005, Mexican paintings in private Spanish collections, Caylus, Madrid, Spain. Exhibited 5 August - October 28, 2007, "The Arts In Latin America, 1492-1820," Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA.

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