The Arts of the Missions of Northern New Spain, 1600-1821

By Chávez, Nicolasa | The Catholic Historical Review, April 2011 | Go to article overview

The Arts of the Missions of Northern New Spain, 1600-1821


Chávez, Nicolasa, The Catholic Historical Review


The Arts of the Missions of Northern New Spain, 1600-1821. Edited by Clara Bargellini and Michael Komanecky. (Mexico City: Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, in collaboration with San Antonio Museum of Art, Museo de Historia Mexicana, Centro Cultural Tijuana, and Oakland Museum of California. 2009. Pp. xxiv, 371. $78.00. ISBN 978-6-079-52170-7.)

Coedited by the curators of the exhibition of the same title, The Arts of the Missions of Northern New Spain goes beyond general art history to place the religious artistic traditions of Catholic Spain and its objects within the context of the geographical, social, and historical milieu of the regions that encompass present-day Texas, New Mexico, southern Colorado, Arizona, California, and northern Mexico.

In her introduction Clara Bargellini describes the catalog and exhibition as not only featuring the art of the missions but also mission life.This is achieved by including an ample number of scholarly articles by an international team of experts from many different fields such as historian David Weber, ethno-historian William Merrill, archaeologist and art historian Marie-Areti Hers, and architectural historian James E. Ivey.

The essays tell the stories of the mission enterprise in the north. Weber's essay details the uneasy relations throughout the mission-building period as he delves into components of force, fear, and violence that shaped the lives of both Natives and Spaniards. Hers's article deals with the diverse cultures and artistic expressions abundant in Northern New Spain before the arrival of the Spanish, while Merrill's article discusses the various indigenous societies and how their diverse cultures affected the colonial system. Ivey's article deals with the diversity of not only indigenous societies but also how landscape, geographical environs, and economy influenced and changed the set rules of mission building. …

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