Caste discrimination woven into Spanish Colonial art of the Americas

Above: “Virgin of the Tailors,” Cusco, Peru, circa 1750, on loan from Museo Pedro de Osma, Lima

Late-colonial New Spain was awash with conflicting energies: American-born Spaniards (Creoles), like their North American counterparts, felt a growing desire for independence, yet needed their identification with Europe to cement their sense of superiority over the racialized indigenous, African, and mixed-race lower classes….”

“Casta Painting and the Rhetorical Body,” Christa Olson, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Fall 2009

And 18th-century fashion statements as recorded in paintings and sculpture became a tool to exhibit the claimed superiority of those with pure, or at least high, percentages of Spanish blood flowing through their veins. On display at the Blanton Museum of Art through January 8, Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial Latin America focuses on the societal role of textiles in conveying class distinctions.

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Postcard from Toulouse, France: A far from humble home for city’s leaders

Above: Under renovation this past fall, the distinctive pink brick Neoclassical facade of the Capitole stretches across the entire eastern side of an impressive plaza.

The city government of Toulouse has headquartered itself on the same expansive plaza since the 12th century.

In the early 16th century, the people of Toulouse lived in fear of invasion by Spanish forces under the flag of King Charles V (1500-1556). The threat was ongoing because Charles V was at constant war somewhere on the continent as he tried to defend his multiple titles in a far-flung Hapsburg Empire. Charles simultaneously was King in Germany, King of Italy and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This powerful threat inspired city leaders to build what is now the oldest remaining governmental portion of its Capitole compound, a brick tower designed to protect the city’s archives and gunpowder. The tower often is referred to as Le Donjon, or The Keep. Le Donjon’s centuries newer belfry was added by the architect known for remodeling Notre Dame in Paris, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879).

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Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: ‘Quiero volver, volver, volver’

Above, “Volver, Volver” in La Clave Azul

Leaving Guanajuato City, you always know you want to return, as in the chorus of that classic ranchera.

This assortment of images is as jumbled as the colorful houses climbing up the mountains surrounding the city or the sounds emanating from musicians stationed along her streets.

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