Museum’s casta paintings confirmed as originals

A Collection of historic paintings uncovered at Leicester Museum and Artwork Gallery has been confirmed as portion of an primary established of essential works by a leading art historian.

The five casta paintings, which ended up in storage in the city’s museum, have been explored and investigated due to the fact their discovery, as aspect of perform headed by the creative director of Leicester arts organisation Opal 22, Tara Munroe.

Now, following closer examine by global art specialist Ilona Katzew, the paintings have been recognised as an initial set of casta paintings dating from the early 1700s.

Casta paintings – from the Spanish and Portuguese phrases for lineage – originate from the Spanish American viceroyalty of Mexico (also identified as New Spain) in the 18th century and depict the variety of interracial mixing resulting from the widespread relationship concerning Spanish settlers, enslaved and indigenous populations.

Many international top authorities in the industry of casta portray just lately took component in an function at De Montfort University sent by Leicester arts, heritage and finding out organisation Opal22.

Casta painting

Casta painting

Ilona Katzew, Curator and Section Head of Latin American art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), seen the paintings and verified their attribution to Juan Rodríguez Juárez (1675-1728) or his circle, an important artist dependable for the invention of new topics in early 18th-century Mexico.

Ilona Katzew said: “This is an fantastic discovery of some of the most intricate paintings of the castas pictorial style that had been previously unaccounted for. When most performs depict “racial” sorts, here the artist evidently intended to individualize the figures.

“This is just one of now a few sets ascribed to Juan Rodríguez Juárez and his circle, and potentially the best.”

Opal22 Arts and Edutainment in partnership with Leicester Town Council are now functioning on a task to host a significant exhibition of the casta paintings, which aims to provide alongside one another for the 1st time the paintings from Leicester with 5 other recognised paintings of this set from the Hispanic Modern society in New York and the Pérez Simón Collection in Mexico. 

The exhibition, funded by the Countrywide Lottery Heritage Fund (NHLF) and Arts Council, is owing to just take put at Leicester Museum and Artwork Gallery in September 2023.

The town council’s museum services is also acquiring the paintings cleaned and conserved, all set for public show, with funding from the NHLF.

Leicester deputy metropolis mayor for lifestyle, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, claimed: “I am extremely grateful for the challenging work which has gone into checking out and identifying these fascinating paintings and the tales behind them.

“Seeing the casta paintings in the context in which they were being designed is critical to understanding their cultural great importance, and bringing them to a wider viewers presents us the opportunity to respect them the moment again and look at what they imply to audiences of these days.”

Tara Munroe additional: “Thirteen many years in the past when these paintings had been positioned in the basement of Leicester Museum, I was a trainee curator, at the start off of my museum occupation. The pull from these paintings has led me to keep on this journey with them. 

“When I seem and these paintings I see so considerably a lot more than just the attractiveness of them. I see the beginnings of the myth of racial identification, and a way to unpack the factors of social and racial stereotyping in today’s existing weather. This is just the commencing of this tale.”

More gatherings are planned, checking out the historic images in get to make feeling of them for today’s audience, as nicely as challenging their social heritage and what they represent to the various demographics of modern day Leicester.