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Beautiful Painted View of Mexican Rural Landscape

This is a striking view of west-oriented terrain.  There are wooded hills in the mid-ground, with a white stag on a hill to the north. A brick wall is in the northwest, or lower right, of the painting, with a grey area in the middle that could be a pond or a meadow.

To the south is a field with plants, possibly corn, painted into it. This field also contains the words, “tierras que se piden Antemi(?) Bartolome Morel esci nin[do].” The view seems to have been painted to illustrate the lands requested by a Bartolome Morel. In the upper left corner there is a signature that is presumably by the painter, Ff(?) Luis XX(?) de Camoro.

Although imprecise to the modern eye, the inclusion of the cardinal points suggests that this was not simply a painting. While that could have been its original intention, it could also have been used to illustrate or support a land claim. Land claims in Mexico could often get litigious. To better illustrate the boundaries of their lands, litigants would sometimes introduce surveys and maps of their lands as exhibits. However, these surveys could be very expensive and still left ambiguities as to precise measurements. Many landowners forewent the cost of surveys and may have relied on more abstract images, like this one, to support their cases.

Miguel Aguilar-Robledo, “Contested terrain: the rise and decline of surveying in New Spain, 1500-1800.” Journal of Latin American Geography 8, no. 2 (2009): 23-47.