New exhibit at Casa de Cultura Banamex
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
A collection of portraits and landscapes by José Justo Montiel, an artist from Orizaba, Veracruz, is on display at the Casa del Mayorazgo on calle Canal.
José Justo Montiel was born in Orizaba, Veracruz on August 5, 1824. He started studying painting at the age of 14 and also was part of the Academia de San Carlos. He returned to Orizaba in 1860. Some of his paintings bear witness to the enthusiastic reception of Carlota and Emperor Maximilian on their way to Orizaba in 1864.
On Tuesday, February 4, a representative of the 19th- and 20th-century paintings collection of the Universidad Veracruzana, Patricia Coa, opened the exhibition, called “José Justo Montiel, Orizabeño Painter.” She told Atención that the exhibition “is the work of a man who has come back,” referring to the fact that the artist spent a great deal of time in the city of León and on weekends used to come to San Miguel “for picnics.” Montiel, a relatively unknown artist in his day, was an academic who spent part of his time illustrating the society of the 19th century in his paintings.
The exhibit is made up of portraits, most of them children, and some landscapes of Veracruz. The works display the artist’s skill in handling light and shadows to define faces, as well as his fine sensibility for capturing not only the physical but also the psychological features of his subjects. In a guided tour, Héctor Sansón commented that the portrait entitled “Señora” is allegedly an image of Mexican soprano Ángela Peralta in her youth; another one unquestionably portrays the singer.
Coa said that there are no portraits of sanmiguelenses in the collection, but it is highly likely that some houses and churches in the city are included in the landscapes. She also said that the collection was donated by the artist in 1889 to the Instituto Preparatorio of Orizaba. Later, it was sent to storage and then to Xalapa. The collection was rescued in the early 1940s and since then has been shown in important cultural centers such as the Museum of Fine Arts. Currently, the collection belongs to the Universidad Veracruzana.
The Casa de Cultura is open every day from 9am to 6pm, and admission is free. Guided tours are given Monday through Friday at 12, 1, 4 and 5pm. For more information call 152-7584. The Casa de Cultura Banamex is located at the corner of calles Canal and Hidalgo.