History
This excerpt from an inventory of an elegant house in Mexico City was ordered by don Antonio Rodríguez de Pedroso, Count of San Bartolomé Xala, in the spring of 1784—not long after the death of his wife, doña Gertrudis Ignacia de la Cotera y Rivascacha. Their house had been built in the prosperous center of Mexico City in 1763 by the celebrated architect Lorenzo Rodríguez; it still stands today, on the Calle Venustiano Carranza, and a photograph can be found in the Vistas gallery. Much of the property in the Xala house would be given to their daughter, María Josefa Rodríguez de Pedroso, as part of her dowry when she married.

The writers of this inventory were interested in the monetary value of the work, and for them, two criteria were foremost: the quality of the frame, and the size. Unlike today, the fame of the artist did not determine the value of the painting; in fact, this inventory names not a single artist.

Visual Culture
The house of Count Xala and his wife was unabashedly elegant: blue and white tiles from Puebla decorated the staircase, oil portraits hung from the walls, and Chinese secretaries and velvet upholstered sofas furnished the rooms. Most of the pictures listed in this inventory would have been on the top floor of the mansion, the main floor of family life, and most of these paintings represented religious scenes or figures. The house had a chapel, and some of the paintings would have been hung here, but their great number suggests that religious paintings would have been found in almost every room of the house. Most notable among the secular works are the portraits. The collection included the portrait of viceroy from the 1770s, as well as the portrait of the Spanish king, which was accorded a place of honor in the sala de dosel, enthroned beneath a canopy.

See the mansion's fa├žade in the Vistas Gallery.







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