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Juan Rodriguez Juarez
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Artist
    (1675-1728)
    Born in Mexico City, Mexico
    Painter
    Late Baroque period artist, from the Viceroyalty of New Spain (modern-day Central America/Mexico)
    Followed the trend of painting portraits of the local nobility
    Among the best known 'Casta' painters
    Attained retrospective popularity for his artwork depicting racial caste groups in early 18th century New Spain
    Specifically was commissioned by King Charles III of Spain to complete a collection of fourteen such 'casta' paintings, in 1715
    Descendant in a long Spanish familial line noted for their accomplishments in the world of painting (which included his father, Antonio Rodriguez, and his grandfathers, Jose Juarez and Luis Juarez - all notable painters in Spanish history)
    Painted 'Jesús con la mujer enferma,' 'La virgen del Carmen con santa Teresa y san Juan de la Cruz,' 'De Mulatto Y Mestiza Produce Mulatto Es Torna Atras' (c.a.1715) and 'Milagros del beato Salvador de Horta' (c.a. 1720)
    No known portrait of his likeness exists.
    He is yet one more artist whose work is widely circulated, but on whom personal details about his private life are scarce.
    He created some of the earliest Spanish 'casta paintings' designed to portray mixed-race families in a negative light.
    His work usually depicted the 'pure-blooded' European as the better-dressed, 'more civilized' one in the family (by proxy meaning that race was directly linked to social preeminence).
    If any doubt existed as to his patrons' obsession with racial taxonomy, the titles of his ornate 'Casta' paintings make it pretty clear (like 'Spaniard and Mulatta Produce a Morsica,' or 'Mulatta and Mestizo Produce a Mulatta - Return Backwards').
    The paintings, while on their own offensive, also played into the Spanish colonial state and Church's taxation policies (more tribute payments were expected from those of lower socio-racial categories).
    His work has since become an object of fascination for members of academia prone to identity politics or Critical Race Theory-studies.
    This includes the Asian American Literary Review's utilizing one of his paintings in their 2013 'Mixed Race in a Box' novelty item; as part of their 'Mixed Race playing card deck' (he's the Seven of Clubs).
    He had perfected his craft by the age of nineteen.
    He was renowned during his lifetime as a painter of religious subjects for Spanish colonial seminaries and convents (including those in Tepozotlan and Queretaro).
    He completed artistic renderings of scenes from the lives of St. Francis, St. Anthony the Great, and the Virgin Mary (only a handful have survived to posterity).
    He influenced both his contemporaries and later generations of painters, including Jose de Ibarra, Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, and Miguel Cabrera.
    Three of his paintings have since been appropriated for showcase in the famed Iglesia de La Profesa in Mexico City.
    His masterpiece was the altar of Los Reyes, Nativity panels with the magnificent 'Adoration of the Kings' centerpiece (the original sketches for the painting has been preserved by San Carlos Academy).
    His older brother, a priest, was a famous contemporary artist in the Spanish colony (who collaborated with him on several of his works).
    Between them, they were the last prominent members of the (arguably) longest lasting and most successful artistic dynasty in colonial Mexico: a vast, extended family which intermarried but worked cooperatively over several generations, starting in the late 1500s with the Basque immigrant painter Balthazar de Echave Orio.
    The Spanish nobility allegedly saw to it that the 'casta' paintings commissioned by the King were promptly sent back to New Spain's colonies, under the belief that they were 'showing the dilution of Spanish purity, rather than strengthening the white, Spanish race.'
    His depictions of mixed-race colonial unions were comparably more benign and harmonious than later artists' depiction of New Spain's racial taxonomy (many of which depicted angry afro-Latinas attacking white Spanish males).
    His fourteen 'casta' paintings have since been displayed at Breamore House, in the United Kingdom. The only such paintings of their kind in the UK, they have attracted a great deal of attention since their acquisition and display by the curators.
    When the Piedmontese traveler, Giacomo Beltrami, visited Mexico in the early 1800s, he noted a strong resemblance in Juarez's work to that of Annibale Carracci of the legendary 'Bolognese masters' (going so far as to note, in his writings, that Juarez's art surpassed theirs in style and form).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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