Artist Carl Nebel Documents Mexico at Peace and War

By Gary F. Kurutz

General [Winfield] Scott’s Entrance into Mexico City. Note the person on the bottom left who is picking up a stone to throw at the American troops. Nebel’s depiction of the Plaza Mayor is almost identical to his print published in his earlier 1836 work except the earlier image did not include the U.S. army.
El Hacendero y Su Mayordomo. A regal-looking hacienda owner is depicted riding with his daughter and followed by a servant as he meets with his overseer. All the figures are beautifully dressed. Nebel described the clothing of the hacendero as follows: “The hat of beaver is decorated with gold studs; the top of the coat is velvet and gold; underneath the coat he wears a short jacket embroidered in silk and gold. The ladies ride [their] horses with a great assurance. They ordinarily wear a hat of very light beaver shaded by beautiful black feathers . . . they are without corset, and the little jacket in Turkish style, embroidered with silver, encloses the whole bust and elevates the beauty of the throat half covered by the light shawl falling on the shoulders.” The overseer’s horse’s rump is protected by heavy decorated leather with gold tassels.
Battle at Churubusco, August 20, 1847. Following the instructions and direction of George W. Kendall, Nebel depicted the assault led by General William J. Worth. The artist did not witness the actual battle.
Las Tortilleras. Illustrating everyday life in central Mexico, the artist shows a woman he identifies as a Creole grinding corn on a stone. Nebel also noted a native woman cooking bread on a terra cotta grill and a man in the background drinking Pulque, a popular beverage taken from aloe juice. The scene takes place south of Puebla, a major city southeast of Mexico City.

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