José María Velasco (1840-1912)
- José María Velasco
- Valle de México desde el Tepeyac
- oil on canvas
- 18 1/8 by 24 in.
- 46 by 61 cm
- Painted circa 1890.
Acquired from the above in 1962 by Salinas y Rocha, Mexico City
Gifted by the above to a Private Collector, Mexico City
Thence by descent to the present owners
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In the foreground of the composition, Velasco painted rhyolitic tuff formations in which he emphasized the effects of weather on fractured rocks and formations of caliche. A little further back, he depicted oaks, several houses, and a chapel, which together form a combination of focal points that expand the picture plane. Also included is a group of three indigenous inhabitants, two women and a man, who walk through a sidewalk which painted detail describes the effects of nature on rainwater drainage. On the left side of the composition we perceive two cows, one black and the other on brown, whose diminutive size amplifies the picture’s depth.
The middle ground presents the valley: its ancient beaches, the dried up lake and the beautiful city of Mexico, the towers and domes of its numerous churches give way to the importance of the cathedral. Both the Sierra Nevada and the mountains to the south are depicted with exceptional mastery in the horizon; particularly the snow covered volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. The sky combines subtle pale blue colors without a trace of clouds. Valley of Mexico from Tepeyac illustrates the cool light of sunset in the winter season. The shadows produced by the group of rocks located in the foreground contrast with the deep color and luminosity of the city and especially the mountains. The intensity of the snowed volcanoes is so bright that it radiates a wonderful glow. This is a work that shows great skill in the handling of brushstroke and in the application of glazes.
José María Velasco executed Valley of Mexico from Tepeyac during the last decade of his life. The picture displays Velasco’s artistic maturity in the virtuous handling of color, brushstroke, perspective, depth, glazing and light. Luminosity and monumentality are characteristic qualities of Velasco’s painting. Manuel G. Revilla, close friend of the artist wrote: "Velasco is the painter of great horizons. His mastery lays in the grandeur of the landscape; this is why it pleases him to paint the valleys and volcanoes, the distant distances. His greatest success is the configuration of planes that delve into the canvas ...he pursues the broad, the great, the majestic, the imposing, leaving on his canvases the seal of his manly energy. "
Ma. Elena Altamirano Piolle