About this artwork
This dramatic canvas was painted during José Clemente Orozco’s self-imposed exile in the United States, where he took up residence in 1927. He moved in part to escape political unrest but also because he felt that it was increasingly difficult to get commissions in his native land. A leader of the Mexican mural movement of the 1920s and 1930s, Orozco claimed to have painted Zapata to finance his trip back to New York after completing a mural commission in California. For liberal Mexicans, Emiliano Zapata became a symbol of the Mexican Revolution (1910–20) after his assassination in 1919. The charismatic Zapata crusaded to return the enormous holdings of wealthy landowners to Mexico’s peasant population. Here his specterlike figure appears in the open door of a peasant hut. Despite the drama before him, the revolutionary hero seems solemn and unmoved. The painting is filled with menacing details—the bullets, the dagger, and especially the sword aimed at Zapata’s eye—and the somber palette of dark reds, browns, and blacks further underscores the danger of the revolutionary conflict.
- José Clemente Orozco
- Oil on canvas
- Signed lower left: J. C. Orozco Inscribed lower left: S. F. JULIO, 1930
- 198.8 × 122.6 cm (78 1/4 × 48 1/4 in.)
- Gift of Joseph Winterbotham Collection
- © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City