Casta paintings

De Espanol y Negra, Mulato - 18th Century Casta Painting.De Español y Negra, Mulato. Image found here.

The “Images” page for Domestic Issue now has three examples of casta paintings (one striking example of which you see here), a genre that was once quite popular during the colonial era but languished as an area of serious academic inquiry until the 1960s. The subject of casta paintings is simple: they depict mixed-race couples of various sorts along with their progeny; the paintings’ captions name the racial types of the parents and the type of their resulting progeny. One of the paintings is technically not a casta because it does not place its figures in a domestic setting, nor do they have progeny (it’s a formal wedding portrait) , but the husband and wife are of different races. A chaste casta painting, if there is such a thing.

I didn’t discuss casta paintings in my dissertation because at the time I barely knew of their existence. For the book project, though, they will definitely figure into it.

I will return to this subject as I do more reading and thinking about it. In the meantime, the curious should go here for a lengthy discussion.

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