The Conquest of Mexico paintings are significant both artistically and historically. Painted in the seventeenth century, the eight detailed canvases tell the story of the 1521 Spanish conquest of the native Aztec people. These images highlight battles between the Spanish and the Aztecs, ceremonial encounters of the Spanish conquistador with the emperor Moctezuma, and other pivotal historic moments. The series ends with the dramatic "Conquest of Tenochtitlán" (the capital of the Aztec civilization, now Mexico City) and the capture of the last Aztec king.
The Conquest of Mexico paintings follow the traditional formula for seventeenth-century Spanish battle paintings in which large figures, often on horseback, are highlighted in the foreground, with the actual conflict occurring in the middle and backgrounds. As is typical of such works, each painting is not limited to one moment. Rather, a series of events are compressed onto a single canvas. Painted about 150 years after the events they depict, these canvases are a remarkable record not only of the events of 1521 but the way in which people in the late seventeenth century regarded the Spanish conquest of Mexico.
"Entrance of Cortés La Conquista de Mexico"
Cortés’s first major conflict with indigenous Mexicans occurred as he and his men made their way toward the city of Tabasco, located on the mainland of Mexico. The Spanish troops, most in full armor and on horseback, engage in a furious battle with the inhabitants of Tabasco.
"Arrival of Cortés in Vera Cruz"
"The Meeting of Cortés and Moctezuma"
"Death of Moctezuma"
"The Sad Night"
"The Battle of Otumba"
"The Capture of Tenochtitlán"
"The Capture of Cuauhtémoc"