Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/374

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
360
PICTURES, OLD AND NEW.

Nevertheless, I must confess to some disappointment on visiting the School of Art and Design. Hundreds of historical, scriptural, religious and classic pictures, elaborately, and, generally, well executed, adorn the walls; but there are not a dozen, illustrative or commemorative of the grand and romantic incidents of the Spanish conquest and subsequent history of Mexico; and, stranger still, the wonderful scenery of this glorious land has been almost wholly neglected. There are dying saints and martyrs by hundreds, Abrahams leading Isaacs to the sacrifice, Judiths and Holofernes, Sampsons and Delilahs, Susannahs and Elders, Kings and Queens of old Spain and old Europe, Monks and Bishops, and Hermits and Brigands, without end.

There are a number of pictures of undoubted authenticity, from the old Spanish Masters, and more Virgins of Guadaloupe and elsewhere, than would stock any reasonably-sized heaven; but one looks in vain for the scenery of the Sierra Madre, the Barrancas of Beltran and Atenquique, Popocatapetl, Orizaba, the Valley of Mexico, and a thousand other glorious subjects for the landscape painter which this country affords.

Of the new pictures, I saw one representing Virgil and Dante looking into hell, which is magnificent in the simplicity of its design and the savage force of its execution. Another—not quite finished—representing the Indian girl who first discovered the art of making pulque from the milk of the aloe plant, with her attendants, presenting the liquor and the plant itself to the King of Tula, is very beautiful and artistic in design, gives a perfect idea of the costumes and appearance of the ancient Aztecs, and is worth a square acre of fly-blown saints, musty martyrs, damp, old hermits in mouldy