Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-14-2017


In the middle of the eighteenth century, Franciscan martyr portraits became popular in monastic spaces of the Spanish viceroyalties of central Mexico. To visually construct the meritorious life of these martyrs, artists drew inspiration from hagiographic chronicles that described various Native rebellions, which featured the graphic depiction of the gruesome deaths of friars. The prospect of martyrdom enticed novices to follow in their footsteps in service to God, but also to the Crown, whose presence in the northern territories of New Spain intensified during the period of the Bourbon reforms. In my dissertation I explore this propagandistic approach to martyr images by analyzing examples anchored to the Franciscan missionary history of New Mexico.

This dissertation also aims to address the trivialization of the history of Testimonies of Violence and their portrayal of anxiety towards Native uprising. These types of images aim to place the viewer as an observer of a historic event, and represent a distinctive genre of Novohispanic painting that has have been historically relegated to an intersectional position between document and “popular painting.” This stance requires an analysis that privileges the historic importance of these images over their aesthetic value.



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ray Hernández-Durán

Second Committee Member

Kirsten Pai Buick

Third Committee Member

Cristina Cruz González

Fourth Committee Member

Aaron Fry


Franciscan, Martyrs, Hagiographies, Pueblo Revolt, New Spain, New Mexico