Zoom into Alberto Ramos Martínez' monumental portrait of Mexican nobility

By Google Arts & Culture

Mancacoyota (1930) by Alfredo Ramos MartínezColección Blaisten

This delicately interpreted portrait is testimony to the pioneering role Ramos Martínez played in the rediscovery of Mexico’s artistic traditions and the formulation of a National School of painting in Mexico.

It also shows the powerful reciprocal influence between his work and those of the students of the Outdoor Painting Schools, in paintings such as Two figures by Fernando Reyes (ca. 1926, Blaisten collection).  

The plane of the pictorial space and the cut of the figure follow the naive-style forms of the students' works, but the painter adds a masterful drawing and a delicate handling of the oil to create a sense of monumentality. 

The woman's undisturbed gaze contrasts with the careful delineation of her bone structure, her sensual mouth and the brightness of her dark eyes that, together with the simple chromatic harmonies, accentuate grace and nobility.

The careful detail of the vines contrasts with the smooth roundness of the shoulders and the bright red flowers resolved in the impressionistic manner. 

When Ramos Martínez returned to Mexico in 1909, after spending nine years in Europe, his brush was drenched in impressionism. In the political context of the revolutionary decade, he immediately recognized the need for issues with greater national relevance and demonstrated his commitment by putting his Academy students to paint outdoors, proving that the Mexican theme was worthy of being artistically represented.

His commitment to interpret the nobility of the Mexican Indians did not decline even after he went to the United States in 1929. It is likely that Mancacoyota was painted in Los Angeles

In it he resorts to the compositional format that he cultivated from the mid-thirties until his death in 1946. Although the meaning of the title is uncertain, this canvas resembles the monumental portraits of his muralist cycle at Scripps College, Claremont, California. Be it a real person or imaginary,, for Ramos Martínez this woman was the prototype of indigenous femininity that appears not only in Mother India (1935, private collection), but in other paintings and studies conducted in California. 

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