Mexican Girl Dying

Thomas Crawford American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 700

The Rome-based Crawford drew his inspiration for this work from “History of the Conquest of Mexico,” published in 1843 by the American historian William H. Prescott. Although the young woman’s identity is unknown, her dramatic position and the gaping wound beneath her right breast suggest that she has fallen in battle. Crawford may have wished to demonstrate in visual form Prescott’s central thesis that the Spaniards conquered Mexico in order to convert Indigenous peoples to Christianity. The cross beside the young woman’s left hand would have consoled some nineteenth-century viewers by implying that she had embraced the religion and found eternal salvation as she lay dying. The marble pedestal is original to the sculpture.

Read a Native Perspective on this work.

Mexican Girl Dying, Thomas Crawford (American, New York 1813?–1857 London), Marble, American

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