Tolsá, Manuel (1757–1816)

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Tolsá, Manuel (1757–1816)

Manuel Tolsá (b. 4 May 1757; d. 24 December 1816), sculptor and architect. Tolsá was trained in Valencia and at the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. In 1791 he arrived in New Spain as director of sculpture at the Academia de San Carlos, bringing with him an important collection of plaster casts of classical works. His activity in New Spain soon included architectural as well as sculptural projects. His best-known work is the equestrian statue of King Charles IV of Spain (1796, cast in bronze in 1803). Popularly known as the "Caballito," it was inspired by the Roman Capitol with its sculpture of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and was the focal point of the 1796 renovation of the Plaza Mayor of Mexico City. Tolsá also worked on the completion of Mexico City's cathedral, on the baldachin (an ornamental structure over the central altar) of the cathedral of Puebla, on the house of the count of Buenavista (today Museo de San Carlos), and on the Palacio de Minería in Mexico City, as well as on many other projects. Because of his energetic participation in so many endeavors, Tolsá is considered largely responsible for the definitive entry of academic neoclassicism into New Spain.

See alsoArchitecture: Architecture to 1900; Art: The Colonial Era.


Manuel Toussaint, Colonial Art in Mexico (1967).

Joaquín Bérchez, "Manuel Tolsá en la arquitectura española de su tiempo," in Tolsá, Gimeno, Fabregat, edited by Generalitat Valenciana (1989), pp. 13-64.

Eloísa Uribe, Tolsá, hombre de la ilustración (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Pinoncelly, Salvador. Manuel Tolsá, arquitecto. México, D.F.: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1998.

Salazar Híjar y Haro, Enrique. Los trotes del Caballito: Una historia para la historia. México: Editorial Diana, 1999.

                                            Clara Bargellini

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Tolsá, Manuel (1757–1816)

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