Mexico City 1837
I was having dinner in the British Ambassador's residence in Mexico City earlier this week (as you do) and was very struck by this magnificent painting of Mexico City in 1837. Mexico City is now around 28 million people so to see what it looks like less than 200 years ago is rather thought provoking. At home I have a painting of my great great great grandmother, aged about 12, painted in the same year. I remember my grandmother telling me about how she met her when she was young which gives me a rather spooky direct connection to the time when both this picture and my great great great grandmother's portrait were painted.
The picture, entitled, accurately if rather unimaginatively, Mexico City 1837, was painted by an English artist Daniel Thomas Egerton. Mexico city can be seen on the left and beyond is Lake Texcoco, which surrounded the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. It has now been completely filled in. In the background is the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the snow-capped peak of the Popcatépetl volcano. It was unusually clear in Mexico City this week and you could actually see the mountains surrounding the city. Yesterday I flew over Popcatépetl on my way to Bogota.
Daniel Thomas Egerton, first exhibited in London in 1824. He arrived in Mexico some time before 1834 and traveled through Mexico and the United States later publishing a set of 12 lithographs of views of Mexico when he returned to London in 1840, where his wife had remained. He returned to Mexico in 1840 with a lady called Agnes Edwards with whom he lived, rather controversially. In April 1842, as the couple were walking their dog, they were attacked by bandits and murdered.
Although the painting, as a whole, is splendid Egerton was obviously more comfortable with landscape than figures but I liked these Mexican lancers in the foreground, very familiar for anyone who has watched The Alamo, and it has got me keen to paint some more of my Boothill Miniatures Mexicans when I get back. Hopefully. they will produce some of these lancers in due course.