Mural: The History of Mexico, Palacio Nacional de Mexico--page 3 (of three pages)

Diego Rivera

PLEASE NOTE: I have arranged these pages from left to right below for purposes of discussion. T

Across the lobes of the central (west) stairwell mural

Lobe the second from the right with reformers at the top; bottom: killing of Aztec warriors by armed cavalry


Some of the major figures during this time period--1855-57

The general next to the corpulent monk is Santa Anna, president of Mexico on several occasions; the general across from him with the broken sword is Miguel Miramón--the broken sword alluding to his betrayal of Mexico (he was eventually executed); the bow-tied man holding the constitution is Benito Juárez, President of the Republic. Because the reform laws (1857) stipulated the separation of church and state, Rivera has painted in the top right men with picks destroying churches. (The door has already been broken in on the central church.) Most of the figures (recognizable portraits) to the left of Juárez served as members of his government.

Holy priests

One priest here uses a Pre-Hispanic stone serpent sculpture as a Christian baptismal font while to the viewer's right Fray Bartolomé de las Casas protects some of the natives, holding a cross to shield them from the conquerors. This same friar in his writings denounced the church and conquerors for cruelty and exploitation.

Invasion by the United States--the lobe to the farthest right: 1846-48

Nicolás Bravo, who served as interim president twice and was the general who led the troops defending Chapultepec Castle, stands, sword in hand, in front of the troops. Chapultepec Castle is in the background. The eagle holds the Mexican symbol of war in his talons.

Scenes of the Spanish conquest

On the lower left Spanish soldiers fire muskets and a cannon, illustrating their military superiority while above to the right the natives are forced to erect new colonial buildings over their old temples, illustrating their subjugation through religion. Cortés stands to the left.

Continue to stairway mural, left side: Class Struggle.

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© 2010 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.