Why did someone in Mexico City commission a painting of events in Belgrade?
Great question! The scene of a recent military victory in Belgrade would have served as a reminder of the Spanish American colony's location at the center of trade and of the Spanish viceroy's political loyalties. The hunt scene, on the reverse of the screen, is based on designs for tapestries owned by the Medici, a very important and wealthy family in Renaissance Italy.
Tell me more.
This object tells a truly multicultural story of the Japanese and Dutch influences on Spanish artistic styles as well as being a visual representation of colonial Mexican allegiance to Spain. The folding screen as an object comes from Japan as well as the Spanish word “biombo” which is derived from the Japanese “byōbu.” The floral patterns over a black border are meant to resemble lacquerware.
The battle we see on this screen represents Hapsburg victory of the Ottoman Turks in Belgrade in 1688. The Hapsburg family, at this time, controlled the Holy Roman Empire and Spain; of course, Spain controlled Mexico in New Spain. The image itself is based on etchings made by one of the most prolific Dutch printmakers of the 1680s, Romeyn de Hooghe. Editions of his work would have been imported to the New World.
How was mother of pearl Incorporated into the screen, was it pasted or was the canvas cut in certain places that accommodate the mother of pearl & then painted over, maybe?
Great question! The mother of pearl is indeed inlaid into the surface, this scene was painted right onto the wood of the screen.
Pieces of mother of pearl were set into cut-out sections in the wood. If you look at it from the right angle you can still see the iridescence.