Northern New Mexico Virtual Archive
Artifacts & Documents

A Chronology of Folk Arts in New Mexico

adapted from "Chronology: Art of Colonial New Mexico",
in Traditional Arts of Spanish New Mexico,
published by theMuseum of New Mexico Press: Santa Fe, 1994.

1519 - Cortés lands in Vera Cruz, Mexico. Two years later in 1521, he conquers the Aztec empire and the capital at Tenochtitlan, Mexico (New Spain) is officially pronounced a colony of Spain.

1523 - Twelve Franciscans arrive at Vera Cruz, the first of a wave of missionaries who undertake to convert the natives of New Spain to Christianity.

1531 - The Virgin Mary appears to the Indian peasant Juan Diego, the first native of Mexico so visited. His account is substantiated when the Virgin's image miraculously appears on his cape. A chapel is built to venerate the occurrence. It is upon this revered image with perceptibly darkened skin that all renderings of Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of New Spain and Indian peoples, are based. The cape is still held today in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

1540 - Coronado leads the first large expedition into New Mexico from New Spain and opens up the region to further exploration and seftlement. New Mexico is claimed as part of the Spanish colonies. Churro sheep are first introduced to New Mexico.

1598 - First Spanish colony established in New Mexico under Don Juan de Oñate at San Juan de los Caballeros (near present- day San Juan Pueblo). It is abandoned in 1610.

1599 - St. James (Santiago) appears and divinely aids the Spanish colonists in their baTtle with the Indians at Acoma Pueblo.

1610 - Santa Fe established as the capital of New Mexico under Don Pedro de Peralta. It is the oldest, continuously occupied capital city in the United States. (St. Augustine, Florida, was seftled by the Spanish in 1565 and is the oldest, continuously occupied European community in the continental United States. Jamestown was seffled in 1607 but was abandoned by 1700.) Era of mission building begins in New Mexico. Between thirty to fifty mission churches were constructed over the next thirty years. Church architecture was based directly on Franciscan mission establishments in Mexico, and the missions were initially decorated with wall paintings and hide paintings that were replaced by altar screens and retablos as they were constructed or became available.

1616 - New Mexico designated a Franciscan custody.

1626 - Fray Alonso de Benavides arrives in Santa Fe with a statue from Spain of Our Lady of the Assumption. This image later becomes known as La Conquistadora. Today she is known as Our Lady of Peace.

1629 - Official contract established for the mission supply caravans that had been operating since 1609. The caravan was scheduled to arrive in New Mexico every three years with supplies for the friars, including woodworking tools, cloth and clothing, Majolica pottery from Puebla, and church furnishings and ornamentation, such as oil paintings in gilded frames, crucifixes, and other carved images of Christ. These images were to be the prototypes for the later New Mexican santos.

1638 - Textiles exported to Mexico.

1639 - Silversmith Rodrigo Lorenzo, a Flemish artisan, is documented as living in Santa Fe.

1650's - The Solomonic baroque style becomes popular in Mexico in the decoration of church facades and altar screens. The column is derived from Bernini's baldachin in St. Peter's (1624-33).

1680 - Pueblo Indians of New Mexico stage the only successful Indian revolt against European sefflers in North America. Spanish colonists are driven south from New Mexico into El Paso del Node, now Juárez, Mexico. Most of the homes, churches, and belongings of the colonists are destroyed.

1692-93 - Don Diego de Vargas leads the reconquest of New Mexico, reoccupying the capital at Santa Fe and displacing its Pueblo inhabitants, and reestablishes Spanish rule.

1693 - Blacksmith Bernardino Sena comes to Santa Fe from Mexico and sets up a shop that would be operated by his family for more than two centuries, well into the 1920s.

1695 - Villa of Santa Cruz de la Cañada established by Vargas.

1706 - Villa of Albuquerque established.

1707 - Jesuit missionaries bring the Italian painting of Our Lady of Light to the Cathedral of León, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. This painting is the prototype for all subsequent images of Our Lady of Light made in New Mexico.

1717 - Construction of the fourth and final mission church at Pecos completed. In this church hung an oil painting on canvas of the pueblo's patron, Our Lady of the Angels of Porciúncula, by noted Mexican artist Juan Correa (working 1675-1739). The painting now hangs in the village church in Pecos.

1729 - Nicolás Gabriel Ortega born, to become the first known weaver in the Ortega family of Chimayó.

1733 - Construction of the church of Santa Cruz begins. Completed in 1748, its main altar (undated) contains eighteenth-century canvases from Mexico with images of the Holy Family with Ann and Joachim, St. Rosalia of Palermo, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Joseph, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Barbara. Two additional paintings of the period hang on the walls and are of St. Jerome and St. Cajetan (Vedder 1983).

1737 - Altar of the Kings completed in the cathedral in Mexico City. This altarpiece, by Jerónimo de Balba's, introduces the baroque estipite style to Mexico.

1747 - Mexican friar and santero Andrés Garcia is stationed in New Mexico missionary system.

1749 - Santero Pedro Antonio Fresquis (also called the Truchas Master) born. Baptized at Santa Cruz, he has three dated works, from 1809 and 1827.

1750 - Beginning of the santero period in New Mexican folk art.

1754 - Bernardo Miera y Pacheco arrives in Santa Fe and remains until his death in 1785, when he is buried at La Castrense, a military chapel on Santa Fe's plaza. He makes his living as a captain in the military, a cartographer, and a santero.

1760 - Bishop Tamarón of Durango, Mexico, visits New Mexico. Licenses are granted to build the churches of San José de Gracia in Trampas, Nuestra Se&ntile;ora del Rosario in Truchas, and La Castrense in Santa Fe.

1761 Stone altar screen completed at La Castrense. This altar screen was probably carved by Capt. Bernardo Miera y Pacheco and now adorns the church of Cristo Rey on Canyon Road in Santa Fe (Carrillo and Mirabal; Pierce and Weigle). The first dated work by a santero living in New Mexico, this includes images of God the Father, Our Lady of Valvanera, St. Joseph, St. James, St. John Nepomuk, St. Ignatius Loyola, Our Lady of Light, and St. Francis Solano (von Wuthenau 1935). This is the earliest known example of the baroque estípite in New Mexico.

1776 - Fray Francisco Atanasio Domínguez's official ecclesiastic visit to the missions of New Mexico. He records the first comprehensive inventory and description of the churches and their furnishings; see The Missions of New Mexico, 1776 (Dominguez 1956).
Church of San José de Gracia completed at Trampas, with carpentry by Nicola's de Apodaca (eighteenth century) and Juan Manuel Romero (late nineteenth century).

1783 - Date of altar screen in the Santuario de Guadalupe, Santa Fe, painted by Mexican artist José de Alcíbar. The screen depicts scenes from the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe as well as the Holy Trinity and the Sacred Heart.

1789 - Date inscribed on signed nativity cradle by Lorenzo Ortega. This is one of the earliest dated and signed pieces of woodwork from New Mexico (Boyd 1974, see MOIFA accession records; Cash 1990).

n.d. - Valdez-family woodcarvers living in Velarde area.

1790 - Date that the Laguna santero may have arrived in New Mexico. He completes various commissions before returning to Mexico in 1808.

1795 - Date of nave altar screen in the church of Santa Cruz, attributed to the Laguna santero. This is the oldest dated wooden altar screen in New Mexico.

1796 - Santero José Rafael Aragón born in Santa Fe.

1798 - Date of altar screen in chapel of San Miguel, Santa Fe. This is the first appearance of Solomonic columns in New Mexican artwork. The architecture of the screen is attributed to the Laguna santero. Eighteenth-century oil paintings from colonial Mexico include St. Louis, St. Francis, Christ in a niche, and St. Michael by Bernardo Miera y Pacheco; the latter was probably painted between 1754 and 1759 but was hung on a church wall until the altar screen was completed (Boyd 1974; Cornelius 1983).

1802 - Rafael Luna of Taos born. He is the first recorded filigree jeweler in the Luna family five-generation tradition (Espinosa 1970).

1807 - The Bazán brothers, master weavers, arrive in Santa Fe from Mexico to improve the technical skills of New Mexican weavers.

1821 - Mexico declares independence from Spain, claiming New Mexico as its province. While this marks the actual end of the colonial period, colonial art forms and traditions continue in New Mexico. Restrictions on foreign commerce, strictly controlled under Spanish rule, are lifted. The Santa Fe Trail is officially opened for the transport of goods into Santa Fe from across the United States.

1823 - José Concepción Trujillo born. He is the first identified weaver in the Trujillo family of Chimayó (Lucero 1986).

1831 - Santero Pedro Antonio Fresquis, the Truchas Master, dies and is buried at the Santuano de Chimayó

1835 - Santero Juan Miguel Herrera born.

1842 - Tinsmith, Santero, and musician Higinio V. Gonzales born. He dies around 1922.

1844 - Tinsmith José Maria Apodaca born. He dies in 1924.

1846 - Americans, led by Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny, occupy Santa Fe and set up a provisional territorial government. This marks the beginning of the mass importation of military supplies in tin containers that provides material for New Mexican tinsmiths.

1847 - Taos Rebellion. Gov. Charles Bent assassinated, and New Mexico put under military government.

1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican War and establishes the boundaries of New Mexico, which exclude southern New Mexico but include southern Colorado and much of present-day Arizona.

1850 - Territory of New Mexico established by the U.S. Congress, and present Texas-New Mexico boundary established (Texas had been claiming the area west to the Rio Grande).

1853 - Gadsden Purchase. The United States acquires southern New Mexico (Mesilla Valley) and southern Arizona from Mexico.

1858 - Santero José Benito Ortega born. His last major work is completed in 1907. Dies in 1941.

1860 - Santero José de Gracia Gonzales, a native of Chihuahua, arrives in New Mexico. He creates and restores altar screens and devotional images throughout the churches of northern New Mexico into the late 1870s. Apparently, he made plaster bultos as well (Wroth 1991).

1862 - Santero José Rafael Aragón dies in Córdova, is buried at St.Anthony de Padua Church in Córdova. His remains are later moved to the chapel of Our Lady of Carmel in the church of Santa Cruz de Ia Cañada.

1863 - Present New Mexico-Arizona boundary established.

1868 - Santero José Dolores López born. He dies in 1937.

1878 - The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (AT&SF) railroad crosses the Raton Pass into New Mexico, reaching Las Vegas, its first destination in New Mexico, in 1879. The availability of mass-produced products and religious images into the territory is thus greatly increased.

1905 - Santero Juan Miguel Herrera dies.

1912 - New Mexico becomes the forty-seventh state of the Union.

1925 - Spanish Colonial Arts Society (SCAS) founded in Santa Fe by Mary Austin and Frank Applegate to help preserve and foster traditional Spanish colonial arts in New Mexico.

1926-34 - Annual exhibition and sale of Spanish crafts at the Spanish Market in Santa Fe, sponsored by SCAS.

1934 - Mary Austin dies. SCAS activities enter a period of decline.

1952 - E. Boyd, curator of Spanish colonial arts at the Musuem of New Mexico in Santa Fe, revives the arts society.

1965 - SCAS-sponsored Spanish Market reactivated.

1994 - The 43rd annual traditional Spanish Market is held in Santa Fe.

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