Herrán, Saturnino (1887–1918)

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Herrán, Saturnino (1887–1918)

Saturnino Herrán (b. 9 July 1887; d. 8 October 1918), Mexican artist. Born in Aguascalientes, Herrán was one of the pioneers of the modern Mexican movement and is known primarily for a mural project for the National Theater, Our Gods, for which he did numerous studies from 1914 to 1918. It was never completed, but his focus on issues of Mexican identity have assured him a place in the history of Mexican art. He emphasized the dual nature of Mexican identity by using the Aztec earth goddess Coatlicue as the central motif, on which he superimposed an image of the crucified Christ. The Aztec deity symbolizes the indigenous character of Mexico and the Christ figure its European aspect. Figures making offerings are shown on each side of the central motif, Indians on the left and Spaniards on the right. Easel paintings by Herrán on Mexican subjects (people at work, fiestas, traditions, and history) inspired the artists of the Mexican School of the 1920s through 1940s. In portraits and a series of paintings he called "the creoles," he used distinctive colonial churches in the background to identify the sitters as Mexican and the location as Mexico. Each of the criollas portrays a beautiful woman as a symbol of Mexico. In his early paintings of 1912 and 1914, Herrán placed elderly figures in thematic contexts that emphasized their hopeless condition, exhausted by a life of toil and suffering. In his later works of 1917, the elderly figures have a serenity and peace that reflects a spirituality or intense religiosity.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century; Creole; Theater.


Saturnino Herrán, Saturnino Herrán, edited by Felipe Garrido, with texts by Ramon Lopez Velarde (1988).

Jacinto Quirarte, Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries (1990), pp. 579-584.

Fausto Ramírez, "Notas para una nueva lectura de la obra de Saturnino Herrán," in Saturnino Herrán, 1887–1987, of Museo de Aguascalientes (Mexico, 1987).

Additional Bibliography

Muñoz, Victor. Herrán: La pasión y el principio. México: Bital Grupo Financiero, 1994.

                                     Jacinto Quirarte

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Herrán, Saturnino (1887–1918)

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