Guadalupe de Moncada: The first female painter of Mexico
We hardly know of two autograph works by the first documented painter in the history of Mexico, Guadalupe de Moncada, which reveals how history has treated the female role in art. The protagonist of our history achieved the highest recognition for her mastery, from being the first academic of the institution of the Royal Academy of San Carlos, as well as its honorary director of the branch of painting. These honors would prove that his talent was indisputable in the cultural panorama of New Spain society. Unfortunately these merits were questioned by her contemporaries alleging that it was the result of nepotism and influences of her husband the Marquis of San Román.
The portrait that she executes of herself is a declaration of intentions. She is presented as an enlightened woman, champion of culture and far from the pomp and ostentation typical of the aristocratic portraits of her time. The attributes of the palette and the brushes are the pride with which she decided to go down in history. A talent still hidden since, as we say, only three works are the ones that can reflect it. Her vocation must have been almost immediate, as reflected in a previous portrait when she was barely nine years old, in which she appears with her brother. He with toys and she as an artist drawing. There is a clear message in the fact that the image that has come down to us of her is linked to the demand for the exercise of painting by women.
The labels that accompany the painting on the back show that forgetting about his figure is a reality. On the one hand, we see how the San Carlos Museum, an institution of which he was a member and houses one of his autograph works, cataloged his self-portrait as an anonymous Spanish from the beginning of the 19th century. Even more curious, if possible, is the second label, which is the one awarded to it by the descendants of the one portrayed, in which they attributed it to Francisco de Goya.
The discovery of this work represents a further step in bringing to light the figure of forgotten artists, women like Guadalupe who were pioneers in valuing their talent and developing their work for future generations.