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Exploring a female legacy: Beatriz Álvarez de Herrera and the façade of the Casa de Montejo

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Chapter Summary

Since the 1940s, when art historians first began seriously examining it, the façade of the Casa de Montejo (c. 1542-49) in Mérida, Yucatán, has been viewed as a visual embodiment of the Spanish conquest of Latin America. This chapter analyzes extant archival documentation concerning Herrera as well as existing scholarly studies that have examined the normative perceptions of sixteenth century Spanish and Spanish-American women and their subsequent representations in façade adornment. It demonstrates that an understanding of early modern societal customs and laws, even if from a broad perspective, can provide insights into deciphering the role of women as both patrons and subjects in the development of architectural adornment and façade design. Herrera is depicted on the façade that Guillermina Vázquez has identified as "a unique example of the first era of Spanish domination, not only in Mexico, but in all of America".

Keywords: Casa de Montejo; façade; Herrera; Latin America; Mexico



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