Following the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early 1500s, Franciscan, Dominican, and Augustinian friars fanned out across the central and southern areas of the country, founding hundreds of mission churches and monasteries to evangelize the Native population. This book documents more than 120 of these remarkable sixteenth-century sites in duotone black-and-white photographs.
Virtually unknown outside Mexico, these complexes unite architecture, landscape, mural painting, and sculpture on a grand scale, in some ways rivaling the archaeological sites of the Maya and Aztecs. They represent a fascinating period in history when two distinct cultures began interweaving to form the fabric of modern Mexico. Many were founded on the sites of ancient temples and reused their masonry, and they were ornamented with architectural murals and sculptures that owe much to the existing Native tradition--almost all the construction was done by indigenous artisans.
With these photos, Spears celebrates this unique architectural and cultural heritage to help ensure its protection and survival.
Beverley Spears is an architect, a landscape architect, and a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. Her firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has won numerous design awards for houses, schools, historic preservation, and community projects. She is also the author of American Adobes: Rural Houses of Northern New Mexico.
"Santa Fe preservation architect Beverley Spears's Early Churches of Mexico: An Architect's View details her decade-plus study of sixteenth-century churches and conventos in Mexico to thrilling result. . . . Spears's black-and-white photography--some three hundred photos--is stunning."--Rachel Preston Prinz, Southwest Contemporary
List of Photographed Sites
Chapter One: Conquest and Conversion
Chapter Two: Anatomy of a Sixteenth-Century Convento
Chapter Three: Space and Ritual of Convento Architecture
Chapter Four: Architectural Styles
Chapter Five: Retablos, Murals, and Sculpture
Chapter Six: Grounds and Setting
Chapter Seven: Time and Transformation
Chapter Eight: Churches of Hidalgo
Chapter Nine: Churches of the State of Mexico and Mexico City
Chapter Ten: Churches of Morelos
Chapter Eleven: Churches of Puebla and Tlaxcala
Chapter Twelve: Churches of Michoacán
Chapter Thirteen: Churches of Oaxaca
Chapter Fourteen: Churches of Chiapas
Chapter Fifteen: Churches of Yucatán
Appendix: Chart of Sixteenth-Century Conventos