Arrieta's dining room paintings

Let's explore some of the secrets hidden in plain sight in these paintings.

By Museo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

Cuadro de comedor (1840/1860) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

Have you ever wondered if we eat the same as our great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents? A reference to find out are the dining room paintings by Tlaxcalan painter José Agustín Arrieta.

Cuadro de Comedor (1864) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

José Agustín Arrieta's dining room paintings portrayed the tables of the families who commissioned them, emphasizing the abundance of ingredients, as well as the tableware and silverware.

Cuadro de comedor (1840/1860) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

On each wall of the dining room hung a canvas; and of each series, consisting of four works, only one was signed.

During the times of independent Mexico, the aromas of the national cuisine acquired form and color in the dining room paintings of José Agustín Arrieta.

Cuadro de comedor (1840/1860) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

The works reveal the most consumed products in Puebla and Tlaxcala. Thus, fruits and vegetables harvested in different seasons appear, such as peaches and pears that were consumed in Puebla during October.

Cuadro de Comedor (1864) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

From the type of objects depicted, it has been inferred that they could also represent food consumed in different seasons of the year. A can of sardines could allude to winter.

Cuadro de comedor (1840/1860) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

Chocolate was consumed hot and foamed in clay pitchers with a frother. It was served in porcelain, which better conserved the temperature. The custom of soaking wheat, corn and butter-based dough was inherited from New Spain.

Cuadro de comedor, Jose Agustín Arrieta, 1840/1860, From the collection of: Museo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim
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Mexico's gifts to the world were: corn, tomatoes, squash, chili, avocado and cocoa to make chocolate.

Cuadro de Comedor (1864) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

These paintings featured dishes, tools and utensils, such as cups, plates, mugs, pots and bottles, among others.

Cuadro de comedor, José Agustín Arrieta, 1840/1860, From the collection of: Museo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim
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Portraying glass containers was not an easy task, since capturing its transparency requires great mastery by the artist. Because of this, oil paintings where glass objects are portrayed were more expensive.

Cuadro de Comedor, José Agustín Arrieta, 1864, From the collection of: Museo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim
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Arrieta also depicted popular kitchen elements: in this clay pitcher used to keep water cold, the Michoacan work of floral motifs can be appreciated.

Cuadro de comedor (1840/1860) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

In 2010, Mexican cuisine was nominated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO).

Cuadro de comedor (1840/1860) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

José Agustín Arrieta's art inspired the authors of the following generations, such as Roberto Montenegro, Ángel Zárraga, Adolfo Best Maugard, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Cuadro de comedor (1840/1860) by José Agustín ArrietaMuseo Soumaya.Fundación Carlos Slim

Now that you've seen the ingredients and utensils that were on the Mexican tables of the 19th century, do you recognize any? <br>Which are used where you live?

Credits: Story

Team Museo Soumaya
Bibliography: Revista mensual Museo Soumaya. México siglo XIX. Enero de 2018.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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