This painting depicts a scene from the conquest of Mexico City by Spanish soldiers (led by Hernán Cortés) in the early sixteenth century. It appears to have belonged to a larger work, but this section is all that remains. The specific events in this portion of the painting focus on the capture of Cuauhtémoc, the ruler of the Aztec people. He had been hiding from the Spanish for 75 days, but eventually emerged on August 13, 1521, after they cut off his access to food and water. The artist did not sign the work, but it was completed in the seventeenth century, long after the events had taken place. The date of creation, decades after the capture of Cuauhtémoc, reveals how stories about the conquest continued to circulate throughout Spanish American society. Tales of the Spaniards' success helped reinforce their authority over the indigenous peoples for generations.
Cuauhtémoc prisionero. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México. July 14, 2021.
Annotated by Brittany Erwin.