Father Hidalgo in Front of the Church of Dolores

Background Information

1979, Eduardo Carrillo. 8'H x 44'W
The revolution for Mexican independence from Spain began on the evening of September 15, 1810. Ignacio Perez, sent by Dona Josefa Dominquez, informed Juan de Aldama, Captain Ignacio Allende and Father Miguel Hidalgo in the town of Dolores that the government had discovered their planned revolt. The following morning, church bells called hundreds of peasants to the town square where they heard the leader of the conspiracy, Fr. Hidalgo, cry out for independence ("El Grito"). A large peasant army quickly mobilized while the revolution spread to other regions of Mexico. However, in March 1811, Hidalgo, Aldama and Allende were defeated near Guadalajara and captured. They were executed a few months later, but the revolution continued until independence was won in 1821. At the conclusion of the revolt, Spanish control of Los Angeles ended, and for 26 years the city was an integral part of Mexico.

In recognition of their country's historical and cultural ties with Los Angeles, the Mexican Government in 1968 donated to the city a replica of the Bell of Dolores, which Hidalgo rang on the morning of September 16, 1810. Dedicated in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter, the Placita de Dolores was developed to display that gift. As part of the project, a limited competition was held in 1977 for a mural to serve as a backdrop for the bell.

Eduardo Carrillo's design, which won the $29,000 commission, portrays the key people at the beginning of the revolution. On the viewer's left, Dona Josefa Dominguez stands in front of her daughter and her daughter's students. To their left, a peasant hangs a poster reading "Down with Bad Government" and "Foreigners Who Have Stolen Our Land," which Hidalgo proclaimed on September 16. Dominguez's messenger, Ignacio Perez, rides the brown horse. Next to him, Captain Ignacio Allende rides the blue horse. A soldier bearing the revolutionaries' flag, which depicts a skeleton, stands next to Jose Maria Morelos, the leader of the revolt in southern Mexico.

At the center of the mural, Juan de Aldama, who was captured and betrayed Hidalgo, points an accusing finger at Hidalgo, who holds a paper with the sign of the "olin," the Aztec symbol for movement and earthquakes. A peasant carrying the standard of the revolution with its depiction of the Virgin of Guadalupe, stands slightly ahead of another revolutionary leader, Maria Estrada, who is holding the scales of justice. Three musicians signify the importance of music in Hidalgo's life, while stalks of corn in the background and peasants making food place the beginning of the revolt at the end of the harvest. Organized around a single point perspective reinforced by the stonework pattern in front of the mural, the Church of Dolores and the adjacent buildings focus the action on a stage outlined by the sign of the "olin."

The mural is constructed of 300 hand-made ceramic tiles, each 1' square. Carrillo prepared a full size cartoon to help engrave the composition into individual sections of fresh clay. Before he dried and fired the squares, glazes were applied over colored oxides.

Text provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, March 1999.

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