New Spain (Spanish colonies)

New Spain consisted of Mexico, much of Central America, parts of the West Indies, from California to Florida, and the Philippines.

c. 1521–1821 C.E.

Beginner's guide

Columbus's voyage marked an important moment for both Europe and the Americas—expanding the known world on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and ushering in an era of major transformations in the cultures and lives of people across the globe.

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Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, <em>Christ Consoled by Angels</em>
Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz, Christ Consoled by Angels

An 18th-century painting from New Spain visualizes Christ's suffering in New Spain

A new Jerusalem in the Americas—the convento of Acolman
A new Jerusalem in the Americas—the convento of Acolman

San Agustín de Acolman’s style suggests a protective function, and may have referenced the temple of Jerusalem, celebrating Mexico as a “New Jerusalem” where the Christian faith could flourish.

Nativity group, from Guatemala
Nativity group, from Guatemala

A Nativity group made in wood from colonial Guatemala shows why sculptors from this area were renowned in the viceroyalties

The Codex Huexotzinco
The Codex Huexotzinco

The images in the Huexotzinco Codex help us to learn more about tribute, conquest and the conditions of colonialism, Native agency, Nahua writing systems, Indigenous knowledge, the importance of images, early Christianity in the Americas, and legal disputes. 

Church of Santa Prisca and San Sebastian, Taxco, Mexico
Church of Santa Prisca and San Sebastian, Taxco, Mexico

One of the most remarkable churches from 18th-century Mexico has a façade and interior that seem to writhe with life.

Cristóbal de Villalpando, <em>View of the Plaza Mayor of Mexico City</em>
Cristóbal de Villalpando, View of the Plaza Mayor of Mexico City

Merchants brought goods from across oceans to sell to the residents of the city in the Parián of Mexico City—a place that Cristóbal de Villalpando's captures in a painting from 1695

Defensive saints and angels in the Spanish Americas
Defensive saints and angels in the Spanish Americas

Images of angels and saints as protectors were common in the 16th–18th Spanish Americas to symbolize their defense of the Christian faith.

Crowned nun portraits, an introduction
Crowned nun portraits, an introduction

One of the most famous  types of female portraits in the colonial Spanish Americas are the monjas coronadas, or crowned nuns, so named for the elaborate floral crowns atop their heads.

Mission San Antonio de Valero & the Alamo
Mission San Antonio de Valero & the Alamo

At the Alamo, the representation of patriotic heroism and brave sacrifice eclipses Spain’s earlier colonial presence and the history of the site’s ruination, reconstruction, and reframing. 

Elite secular art in New Spain
Elite secular art in New Spain

Elites of New Spain decorated their private residencies with portraits, furniture, silver, textiles, and ceramics to showcase their wealth and status in colonial society.

Map of Cholula, from the <em>relaciones geográficas</em>
Map of Cholula, from the relaciones geográficas

Learn more about a map from 16th-century Mexico, made by an Indigenous artist to document the town of Cholula, to be sent back to Spain.

From a live webinar: Dr. Elena FitzPatrick Sifford on Casta paintings
From a live webinar: Dr. Elena FitzPatrick Sifford on Casta paintings

From a live webinar: Dr. Elena FitzPatrick Sifford on Casta paintings

Selected Contributors