This research guide was created in 2022 by Annalise Welte and is managed by Getty Library Staff.
Texts and Research: Payton Phillips Quintanilla, Megan O’Neil, Matthew Robb, and Mary Miller
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The individuals listed below have been clearly identified and appear in more than one of the ten letters selected for this Research Guide. Individuals who appear in a single letter, or whose identities are still being researched, are discussed in footnotes to the letters.
Porfirio Aguirre (1889–1951?) was a Mexican archaeologist, professor, and polyglot best known for his discovery of the iconic Máscara de Malinaltepec and his translations from Nahuatl and German to Spanish. Aguirre was born into a family of artists in Copanatoyac, Guerrero, and was educated in Mexico City at the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria and the Academia de San Carlos, where he forged a lifelong friendship with Diego Rivera. Aguirre then joined the first generation of students trained at the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Historia y Etnografía (today called the Museo Nacional de Antropología), where he served as an archaeologist and professor until 1934. This was a period in which individuals and institutions were fiercely vying for power in Mexico’s emerging world of professional archaeology, and with weak legal frameworks and hierarchies of authority in flux, Aguirre, like many of his generation, experienced these rivalries firsthand. In 1910, for instance, while still a student at the Museo Nacional, Aguirre undertook an independent excavation at Tenancingo, in the state of México, that was subsequently sponsored by the Museo. However, shortly after its enthusiastic announcement in the Mexican press, the excavation was shut down by Leopoldo Batres, director of the Inspección de Monumentos Arqueológicos, for lack of permits from his office, and the objects already excavated were confiscated by the Inspección. An even more public and prolonged confrontation began in 1921 when in the mountains of Guerrero, outside of Malinaltepec, Aguirre unearthed a funerary mask covered in stone and shell mosaic. A non-specialist employee of the Dirección de Antropología (formerly the Inspección de Monumentos Arqueológicos) questioned the authenticity of the mask, which the Museo fiercely defended. The debate devolved into a battle (first about the mask, but then around a series of artifacts unrelated to the mask or to Aguirre) between Ramón Mena, Aguirre’s supervisor and head of the Department of Archaeology at the Museo, and Manuel Gamio, head of the Dirección and a former classmate of Aguirre’s. Despite such disputes between his colleagues, Aguirre continued to advance in his career, taking on teaching, museum assistant, and field inspection duties, and publishing papers on archaeological sites in Guerrero and Guanajuato. In 1930, Alfonso Caso—a fast-rising star in Mexican archaeology trained by Gamio—was named head of the Department of Archaeology and formally passed “custodianship” of its materials to Aguirre for inventory in 1930 and 1931. Then, in 1932, a particularly brutal professional conflict began when Mena accused Caso of falsifying jewels excavated at Monte Albán’s Tomb 7, to which Caso responded with a fierce but calculated response that would eventually result in disgrace and dismissal for Mena, on the grounds of damaging national patrimony. In the thick of this discord, Aguirre was named Honorary Professor of Mexican [Nahuatl] Language by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 1932, and in 1933, the same year that his translation from German to Spanish of Walter Krickeberg’s Los Totonaca was published, he was named First Archaeologist at the Museo Nacional. 1933 was also the year that Caso began his brief tenure as the Museo’s director (1933–1934), and when he accused Aguirre of stealing objects from its collections; Aguirre was dismissed on these grounds in early 1934. Aguirre continued to use his training for private commissions, including, according to Guillermo Echániz, collaborations on a number of codex facsimiles produced by the Librería Anticuaria Echániz, as well as rubbings, tracings, and drawings of pre-Hispanic objects that Echániz hoped to sell in Mexico and abroad. Aguirre’s final publications were several translations from Nahuatl to Spanish in Vargas Rea’s Colección Amatlacuilotl (1950-1951). The circumstances of his death and the place of his burial are unknown. Aguirre's granddaughter, Dr. Marina Aguirre, is working to recuperate her grandfather’s legacy, and was a key collaborator in the 2021 exhibition and symposium at the Museo Nacional de Antropología celebrating the centenary of his discovery of the Máscara de Malinaltepec.
Porfirio Aguirre appears in the letters dated October 22, 1940, November 11, 1940, and November 13, 1940 included in this Research Guide.
1. José Castillo y Piña, “XII. Rafael Aguirre. Insigne pintor mejicano,” in Tonantzin. Nuestra Madrecita la Virgen de Guadalupe (México: Imprenta Manuel León Sánchez, 1945), 149–186.
2. José Daniel Campos Massa, Entrevistas y anécdotas de Diego Rivera (Tepic: G-3 Impresiones, 2005), 23, 25, 32, 40; Diego Rivera and Gladys March, My Art, My Life (New York: Citadel Press, 1960), 34; Diego Rivera and Gladys March, Mi arte, mi vida, trans. H. González Casanova (México: Editorial Herrero, S.A.: 1963), 30.
3. Mechthild Rutsch, Entre el campo y el gabinete: Nacionales y extranjeros en la profesionalización de la antropología mexicana (1877–1920) (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia; Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México, Instituto De Investigaciones Antropológicas, 2007), 276.
4. Rutsch, Entre el campo y el gabinete, 69.
6. Máscara con mosaico de turquesa: Dictámenes periciales (México: Imprenta del Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Historia y Etnografía, 1922); Sofía Martínez del Campo Lanz (coord.), La Máscara de Malinaltepec (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2010).
7. Porfirio Aguirre, “Monografía de las ruinas arqueológicas del Estado de Guerrero, 31 octubre 1916 [Carta Arqueológica],” in Archivos Técnicos del INAH, México, INAH, t. LVII.
8. Ramón Mena and Porfirio Aguirre, “La Nueva Zona Arqueológica,” Revista Mexicana de Estudios Históricos, offprint, no. 2 (1927): unpaginated.
9. “Acta de entrega del Departamento de Arqueología del Museo Nacional que hace Alfonso Caso al prof. Porfirio Aguirre,” Núm. 5, Año 1930, Fondos Documentales Alfonso Caso, Biblioteca Juan Comas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
10. Haydeé López Hernández, En busca del alma nacional: La arqueología y la construcción del origen de la historia nacional en México (1867-1942) (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2018), 183–184.
11. Ignacio García Téllez to Porfirio Aguirre, April 20, 1932, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Depto. de Admon., Sec. de Tram., Mesa de Personal, Núm. 02-1713, Exp. núm. 02/131/-267, Colección Dra. Marina Aguirre.
12. Walter Krickeberg, Los Totonaca: Contribución a la Etnografía Histórica de la América Central, trans. Porfirio Aguirre (México: Talleres Gráficos del Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Historia y Etnografía, 1933).
13. Luis Tijerina Almaguer to Porfirio Aguirre, February 14, 1933, Secretaría de Educación Pública, Núm. 00282, Depto. Admvo., Sec. de Personal, Mesa 1/a, Colección Dra. Marina Aguirre.
14. López Hernández, En busca del alma nacional, 183–184, n. 123.
15. John B. Glass, “Annotated References,” in Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources, Part Four, edited by Howard F. Cline, of Handbook of Middle American Indians, Volume 15, edited by Robert Wauchope (London: University of Texas Press, 1975), 539.
16. Guillermo Echániz to Earl Stendahl, March 19, 1942, August 26, 1942, and January 17, 1944, Box 11, Folder 8, Stendahl Art Galleries Records (2017.M.38), Getty Research Institute.
17. Anales de Tlaltelolco. Número Uno. Anónimo Indígena Traducido al Español por Porfirio Aguirre, Colección Amatlacuilotl  (México: Vargas Rea, 1950); Primeros Memoriales de Tepeopulco. Anónimos Indígenas. Compilados por Fr. Bernandino de Sahagún. Traducidos del Nahuatl al Español por Porfirio Aguirre [4 Tomes]. Colección Amatlacuilotl  (México: Vargas Rea, 1950–1951).
18. “Porfirio Aguirre, a 100 años del descubrimiento de la máscara de Malinaltepec,” INAH TV, August 17, 2021.
19. “Acerca de la exposición” Máscara de Malinaltepec: 100 años, August 2021–October 2021, Museo Nacional de Antropología; “A un siglo de su hallazgo, dedican exposición temporal y coloquio a la máscara de Malinaltepec,” Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Secretaría de Cultura del Gobierno de México, August 17, 2021.
Walter Arensberg (1878–1954) and his wife Louise (1879–1953) were among the most notable U.S.-based art collectors of the first half of the 20th century. While Walter was born into Pittsburgh steel wealth, it was the family fortune of his wife Louise, made in Massachusetts textile manufacturing, that would allow the couple to rise to prominence in the world of avant-garde art collecting, and place their homes, first in New York City, and then in Los Angeles, at the center of artistic and intellectual exchange. The Arensbergs were also among the first U.S. collectors to begin seriously collecting pre-Hispanic art, much of which they bought from Earl Stendahl. These purchases were made both before and after Stendahl relocated his gallery from Wilshire Boulevard to the Hollywood Hills property that adjoined the Arensberg estate (Stendahl would buy and transform the Arensberg home into his primary gallery after the couple’s passing). At the close of a complex, decade-long search for an institution with which to entrust their collection, the Arensbergs decided on the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A mural fragment from the Atetelco compound at Teotihuacan counts among the numerous pre-Hispanic objects in Philadelphia’s Arensberg Collection that were bought from the Stendahl Art Galleries.
Walter Arensberg appears in the letters dated October 22, 1940, November 2, 1940, November 11, 1940, and November 13, 1940 included in this Research Guide.
1. Mark Nelson, William H. Sherman, and Ellen Hoobler, Hollywood Arensberg: Avant-Garde Collecting in Midcentury L.A (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2020).
2. “Arensberg Archives: Historical Note,” Philadelphia Museum of Art; Karen Chernick, “Inside the Legendary Art-Filled Home of Walter and Louise Arensberg,” Artsy.net, September 11, 2020.
3. Mary Miller, “Preface;” Ellen Hoobler, “Smoothing the Path for Rough Stones: The Changing Role of Pre-Columbian Art in the Arensberg Collection,” in Hollywood Arensberg, vi–vii; 343–398.
4. Naomi Sawelson-Gorse, “The Art Institute of Chicago and the Arensberg Collection,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 19, no. 1 (1993): 81–111; Hoobler, “Smoothing the Path,” in Hollywood Arensberg, 382–384.
5. Fresco (1950-134-404), 1st century CE-600, Mexican, Teotihuacan, 29 in. x 6 feet 6 in. (73.7 x 198.1 cm), The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Hoobler, “Smoothing the Path,” in Hollywood Arensberg, 385.
Alfonso Caso (1896–1970), famed for his 1932 discovery of Tomb 7 at Monte Albán in Oaxaca, was an attorney-turned-archaeologist from the intellectual elite of Mexico City, and the first director of both the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, established in 1939, and the Instituto Nacional Indigenista, established in 1948. He produced more than 300 publications on Mexican history and archaeology, including such well-known titles as La religión de los aztecas (1945), Urnas de Oaxaca (1952), El pueblo del sol (1953), La cerámica de Monte Albán (1967), and El tesoro de Monte Albán (1969). Caso began his career as a professor of law, logic, and epistemology, and this methodological background is widely viewed as foundational to his persona as an archaeologist serving in the field, the classroom, and in various government institutions. Caso’s formal entrance into the world of professional Mexican archaeology via the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Historia y Etnografía (today called the Museo Nacional de Antropología) c. 1930 was part of the rise of a new generation trained after the Mexican Revolution. As he swiftly rose through the ranks of that institution, he had a direct hand in ushering out some of the old generation, including the archaeologists Ramón Mena and Porfirio Aguirre. Later shifting from the Museo Nacional and into his role as the director of the newly established Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), Caso focused considerable attention on mitigating the looting and trafficking of pre-Hispanic objects, while also maintaining working relationships with collectors and dealers. If Guillermo Echániz viewed private collectors as superior to government archaeologists or curators in terms of effectively acquiring, maintaining, and exhibiting these materials, Caso worked hard to prove the opposite true, emphasizing the importance of documented archaeological excavations, like that of Monte Albán Tomb 7, while still conceding that certain objects and collections in private hands held historical value. Of the 16 pre-Hispanic objects reproduced as photographs in El pueblo del sol, only two were held in private collections (those of Guillermo Echániz and Salomón Hale), perhaps reflecting a ratio that Caso could accept. Caso died in Mexico City in 1970. His documentary archives are in the Biblioteca Juan Comas (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and the Biblioteca Nacional de Antropología e Historia (located in the Museo Nacional de Antropología), the latter of which houses a reconstruction of Caso’s personal library. Additional documentary materials related to Caso's life and work can be found in the archives of the Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (formerly the Instituto Nacional Indigenista), as well as in INAH's Fototeca Nacional and Archivo Técnico.
Alfonso Caso appears in the letters dated November 13, 1940, December 7, 1940, August 13, [1941?], and January 4, 1942 included in this Research Guide.
1. “Hallazgo de la Tumba 7 de Monte Albán: Cápsula documental,” INAH TV, Mediateca INAH, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
2. “Alfonso Caso,” Nuestros Integrantes, El Colegio Nacional.
3. Alfonso Caso, La religión de los aztecas (México: Secretaría De Educación Pública, 1945); Alfonso Caso and Ignacio Bernal, Urnas de Oaxaca (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1952); Alfonso Caso, El pueblo del sol (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, [1st ed. 1953] Colección Popular 1971); Alfonso Caso, Ignacio Bernal, and Jorge R. Acosta, La cerámica de Monte Albán (México: Instituto Nacional De Antropología e Historia, 1967); Alfonso Caso and Daniel Rubín de la Borbolla, El tesoro de Monte Albán (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1969).
4. Haydeé López Hernández, En busca del alma nacional: La arqueología y la construcción del origen de la historia nacional en México (1867-1942) (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2018), 151–207.
5. López Hernández, En busca del alma nacional, 183, 236.
6. Caso, El pueblo del sol, plates IV, IX, unpaginated.
7. Fondos Documentales Alfonso Caso, Biblioteca Juan Comas, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
8. Baltazar Brito Guadarrama and Juan Carlos Franco Montes de Oca, Alfonso Caso y su biblioteca (México: Biblioteca Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2019), 40–59.
Guillermo M. Echániz (1900–1965) was a bookseller and antiquarian based in Mexico City, and one of Earl Stendahl’s first major suppliers of pre-Hispanic art. While Echániz’s own expansive collection of pre-Hispanic objects elicited both admiration and condemnation during his lifetime, today he is best known internationally for the facsimiles of codices (pre- and post-Conquest Mexican manuscripts) that he produced and sold out of his Librería Anticuaria Echániz, starting from its first location at Donceles 12 in Mexico City’s historic center. This address also hosted the first iteration of Echániz’s Museo de Artes Gráficas, which contained a veritable timeline of graphic arts materials, from pre-Hispanic clay seals and stamps, to a colonial-era printing press, to engravings by José Guadalupe Posada. Echániz’s Librería and Museo expanded exponentially after 1941 when he acquired a new property at Mar Arafura 8 in Popotla. Its high blue walls would come to enclose a family home with museum-like galleries and an impressive outdoor display garden; this was a Mexico City counterpart to the Stendahl residence in the Hollywood Hills, also acquired in 1941. In addition to his business sense and willingness to illicitly export pre-Hispanic objects from Mexico to the United States, it was perhaps Echániz’s command of English and experience in the U.S. that made him so comfortable with this binational partnership. Echániz had married Juliette (“Julieta”) Latrémouille (1905–1985) in Detroit in 1924, and both of their children were born there before the close of the decade. Julieta, who was born in Hull, Quebec, played an active role in the business of the Librería Anticuaria Echániz and Museo de Artes Gráficas. It is clear that she assisted with text production and dissemination, as her initials or signature frequently appear in the Librería’s publications. Julieta also maintained detailed accounting books, and carried on with the business and correspondence when her husband was away from home scouting objects and making deals. Guillermo Echániz is little known to contemporary scholars and curators of pre-Hispanic art, aside from a few mentions and a small number of objects. Indeed, the letters included in this Research Guide portray a man who was so focused on procuring and selling pre-Hispanic objects that he showed little interest in their historical context or cultural significance. His self-fashioned public persona, by contrast, would become that of a discerning collector positioned at the crossroads of scientific research, popular interest, and the promotion of pre-Hispanic art and mexicanidad. At the root of his beliefs around collecting in the Mexican context was the outsize importance of private collectors and collections in a country whose government, he alleged, could not properly protect the nation’s archaeological treasures nor effectively communicate their enormous value, whether cultural or commercial, to the Mexican people; and he argued that Mexico’s Ley de Protección y Conservación de Monumentos Arqueológicos e Históricos, which placed limits on the acquisition and commerce of pre-Hispanic objects, was both unconstitutional and arbitrary. Still, Echániz could not escape criticism in the Mexican press, particularly over the mural taken from the Tetitla compound in Teotihuacan that he sold to Stendahl, who then sold it to Robert Woods Bliss. This criticism eventually translated into concern that Echániz’s own extant private collection would be dispersed and sold abroad. In the mid 1960s, with the construction and opening of the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Chapultepec, the Mexican government increased its efforts to acquire private collections via both purchases and donations. Many collectors and dealers—including those who saw stricter regulation of the market on the horizon, or sought public recognition (or pardon) for their collecting activities—viewed this escalation in pressure to turn over their inventory as an opportunity. Echániz himself was reportedly negotiating the sale of his collection to the Mexican government c. 1964, with the stipulation that it carry his name, but this deal was never realized. Echániz died in early November 1965, and by the end of May 1966, Julieta was selling pieces on consignment to a dealer in New York. It is not currently known how many other U.S. dealers and collectors she approached, or how many of the objects were bought by the Stendahl family, whose patriarch died less than 7 months after Echániz. The Museo de Artes Gráficas was still functioning on Mar Arafura in August of 1984, the same year that Julieta transferred at least part of its extant collection to INAH, which INAH placed in storage at the Museo Fuerte de Ulúa, Veracruz. A large part of Echániz’s Museo de Artes Gráficas is currently owned by the Fundación Armando Birlain, whose namesake bought the collection from Julieta c. 1975, and has maintained it in its own museum (currently called the Museo Nacional de Artes Gráficas) since 1977. It is likely, however, that many of the pre-Hispanic objects in Echániz’s original collection have long been dispersed, both within Mexico and abroad.
1. April Dammann, Exhibitionist: Earl Stendahl, Art Dealer as Impresario (Santa Monica: Angel City Press, 2011), 130–131; Ellen Hoobler, “Smoothing the Path for Rough Stones: The Changing Role of Pre-Columbian Art in the Arensberg Collection,” Hollywood Arensberg: Avant-Garde Collecting in Midcentury L.A, Mark Nelson, William H. Sherman, and Ellen Hoobler, eds. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2020), 371–373, 377, 379–380, 394–396.
2. John B. Glass, “Annotated References,” in Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources, Part Four, edited by Howard F. Cline, in Handbook of Middle American Indians, Volume 15, edited by Robert Wauchope (London: University of Texas Press, 1975), 539–540, 596-598; Olivier Jacquot, “Les fac-similés de codex mexicains de Guillermo M. Echániz,” Amoxcalli. Carnet de veille sur les codex américains (Amérique du Nord et Méso-Amérique), March 31, 2020 [first published], September 9, 2021 [revised].
3. Códice Borbónico: Manuscrito pictórico antiguo Mexicano que se conserva en la Biblioteca de la Cámara de Diputados de París (Palais Bourbon) (México: Librería Anticuaria G.M. Echániz, 1938).
4. Guillermo Echániz to Earl Stendahl, Nov. 13, 1940, Box 11, Folder 9, Stendahl Art Galleries Records (2017.M.38), Getty Research Institute.
5. Guillermo M. Echániz, Contribución a La Exposición Editorial Del Continente Americano (México: Museo De Artes Gráficas, 1964).
6. Guillermo Echániz to Earl Stendahl, July 8, Oct. 18, and Dec. 4, 1941; Earl Stendahl to Guillermo Echániz, July 12 and Sept. 11, 1941; Box 11, Folder 9, Stendahl Art Galleries Records (2017.M.38), Getty Research Institute.
7. “Novedades,” TeleMundo, Teleprogramas Acapulco (TPA), S.A., [1960?] (posted on YouTube as “Televisa60Parte1” and “Televisa60Parte1” by the Museo Nacional de Artes Gráficas).
8. April Dammann, Exhibitionist, 164; William H. Sherman and Mark Nelson, “The King and Queen Surrounded: The Arensberg Collection in Context,” Hollywood Arensberg, 14, 20.
9. Wayne County Marriage Registry, Record Number 274433, William M. Echaniz and Julia Latremuille (sic), Aug. 2, 1924, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics.
10. John Robert Echániz, Registration Card (WWII), Order Number K-13757-X, undated, Local Board No. 1 (Foreign), District of Columbia, National Records and Archives Administration; Juan Roberto Echániz, Marriage Registry, Record Number 324, Aug. 19, 1947, Archivo de la Dirección de Registro Civil del Estado de Tamaulipas, Oficialía de Nuevo Laredo, Matrimonios; Magdalena Echániz Latrémouille, Marriage Registry, Record Number 34, Jan. 28, 1946, Archivo General del Registro Civil del Distrito Federal, Oficina Central, Juzgado 9, Matrimonios.
11. Códice Bodley: Manuscrito pictórico antiguo Mexicano de la Civilización Mixteco Zapoteca. Forma parte de la Colección Thomas Bodley. Se conserva en la Biblioteca de Oxford, Inglaterra (México: Librería Anticuaria G.M. Echániz, 1947); Códice Selden B: Pictografía pre-hispánica mexicana. Cultura mixteca. Actualmente en la Biblioteca Bodleiana de Oxford, Inglaterra (México: Librería Anticuaria G.M. Echániz, 1949); Códice Telleriano-Remensis: Pictografías mexicanas del siglo XVI, con interpretación en lengua española de la época. Actualmente en la Biblioteca Real de Bruselas. Reproducción de la edición facsimilar publicada en París por el Duque de Loubat (1899) (México: Librería Anticuaria G.M. Echániz, 1963); Códice Manuel de Velasco y Almendaro: Reproducción de las calcas del códice original en 25 láminas fotostáticas de 25 a 60 c.m. (México: Librería Anticuaria G.M. Echániz, 1965).
12. Julieta Echániz to Earl Stendahl, Jan. 21, 1945 and undated letter, Box 11, Folder 7; Jan. 18, 1941 and Nov. 14, 1942, Box 11, Folder 8; Stendahl Art Galleries Records (2017.M.38), Getty Research Institute.
13. G.M. Echániz, “Imprenta Pre-Hispánica,” in Sellos arqueológicos veracruzanos, Gaspar Mayagoitia, Guillermo M. Echániz, and Constantino Rábago (México: [Museo de Artes Gráficas], 1959), 4.
14. Guillermo M. Echániz, Consideraciones sobre coleccionismo de arqueología mexicana (México: [Museo de Artes Gráficas], 1958); Ramón Valdiosera, “El Coleccionismo y comercio de objetos arqueológicos: En pie de lucha, dicen,” Impacto, May 6, 1959, 40–41, Hemeroteca Nacional de México.
15. César Lizardi Ramos, “Escándalo por el Robo de una Gran Pintura India,” Excélsior, Nov. 27, 1944, Miscelánea Semanal, 6, Hemeroteca Nacional de México; Alfredo Cardona Peña, “Fotocharlas: Diego Rivera, XLVII,” El Nacional, July 2, 1950, section 2, 3, Hemeroteca Nacional de México; “Causarán asombro los murales de Teotihuacán,” El Nacional, May 5, 1952, section 1, 1, 5, Hemeroteca Nacional de México; Mario Escurdia, “Saqueo de nuestras joyas arqueológicas,” Mañana, Sept. 25, 1954, 92-98, Hemeroteca Nacional de México; César Lizardi Ramos, “Los maestros pintores de Teotihuacan,” Excélsior, June 21, 1959, Sección Dominical, 1, 4, Hemeroteca Nacional de México.
16. Escurdia, “Saqueo,” Mañana; “Novedades,” TeleMundo.
17. Luis Aveleyra Arroyo de Anda, Obras selectas del arte prehispánico: Adquisiciones recientes (México: SEP, Consejo para la Planeación e Instalación del Museo Nacional de Antropología, 1964).
18. Manuel Mejido, “La Colección Echániz: Un tesoro arqueológico en venta,” Excélsior, Nov. 29, 1964, 108–109, Hemeroteca Nacional de México.
19. Echaniz, Mrs. G.M., 1950, 1966, John and Nora Wise Papers / Professional / Correspondence, Box 8, Folder 19, Dallas Museum of Art Archives / SC-025.
20. “Aquí tenemos uno de los tres únicos museos de artes gráficas del mundo,” El Nacional, Aug. 9, 1984, 9, Hemeroteca Nacional de México.
21. José Eduardo Novas Viveros, “Reseña de la Colección Guillermo M. Echániz,” Museo Fuerte San Juan de Ulúa, Lugares INAH.
22. “Colección de artes gráficas,” Museo Nacional de Artes Gráficas, Fundación Armando Birlain.
Salomón Hale (1897–1964) was a prominent art collector and active Jewish community leader who ran a fine leather import business in Mexico City. Born in Lipno, Poland, Hale immigrated to Mexico in 1921, and subsequently helped many of his relatives (and others) emigrate from Poland and settle in Mexico, thus saving most of his family from the Holocaust. Hale was considered a visionary art collector, and had already developed an impressive collection of paintings by modern European and Mexican artists when he became one of the first patrons of Inés Amor’s pioneering Galería de Arte Mexicano, which opened in 1935. In addition to buying paintings from dealers, previous owners, and directly from the artists themselves, Hale commissioned some pieces, such as a 1929 portrait of his sister-in-law, Miriam Penansky, painted by Frida Kahlo, and possibly a portrait of himself by Diego Rivera, whose early paintings were of special interest to Hale. Outside of his collection of modern art, Hale was a respected bibliophile and collector of antique books, and it is in this context that he may have first met Guillermo Echániz. Both Echániz and Earl Stendahl considered Hale a friend, a business associate, and a sometimes-rival collector. Still, very little is known about Hale’s collection of pre-Hispanic objects, which appear with much less frequency in exhibitions and publications than his modern paintings. The majority of Hale’s collection seems to have remained in the family, with paintings occasionally coming to auction.
Salomón Hale appears in the letters dated November 2, 1940, December 7, 1940, and August 4, 1941 in this Research Guide.
1. María Castro, “Hale, Salomón (also Solomon, called Salo),” Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2018.
2. Salomon Grimberg, Jane CH Jacob, and Laurent Sozzani, "Two Frida Kahlo Portraits: One Found, One Confirmed." IFAR journal 14, no. 3 (2013): 22-30 (see p. 25) “Salomón Hale,” “Jaime Hale,” “Elena Hale,” “Magdalena Hale de Holtz,” Fichas migratorias, Centro de Documentación e Investigación Judío de México (CDIJUM).
3. Ana Garduño, El poder del coleccionismo: Alvar Carrillo Gil (México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México, Coordinación De Estudios De Posgrado, 2009), 44, 124, 410; Jorge Alberto Manrique and Teresa del Conde, Una mujer en el arte mexicano: Memorias de Inés Amor (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1st ed. 1987), 236–237; (2nd ed. 2005), 261.
4. Frida Kahlo, Portrait of Miriam Penansky, 1929, oil on canvas, 60 x 47 cm (24 x 18 inches), Lot 45, Latin American Art, November 25, 2014, Sotheby’s, New York; Grimberg, Jacob, and Sozzani, "Two Frida Kahlo Portraits,” 22–30.
5. Dalia Wassner, “Exploring Mexican Judaism: A Personal Story,” ReVista. Harvard Review of Latin America, March 7, 2021.
6. Bertram D. Wolfe, The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera (New York: Stein and Day, 1963), xi-xii, 41–42, 48–49.
7. Irma Contreras García, "Bibliografía catequística mexicana del siglo XVI," Boletín del Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas 1 (2013): 163–242 (see pp. 205–206, 208–209); Francisco Guerra, “Some Bibliographers of Early Medical Americana,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 17, no. 1 (1962): 94–115 (see pp. 100–101); Román Zulaica Gárate, Los franciscanos y la imprenta en México en el siglo XVI (México: Editorial Pedro Robredo, 1939), 69, 144.
8. Alfonso Caso, Los calendarios prehispánicos (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1967), 67–68, 70; Alfonso Caso, El pueblo del sol (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, [1st ed. 1953] Colección Popular 1971), plate IX, unpaginated.
Karl Nierendorf (1889–1947) was a prominent German art dealer who specialized in expressionist and abstract paintings, first running galleries with his brother, Josef, out of Cologne and Berlin. The rise of Nazism and the march toward war, with its accompanying attacks on art and artists, prompted Nierendorf to visit and then resettle in the United States, establishing his own gallery in New York City (1937–1947). This new iteration of the Nierendorf Gallery quickly gained prestige by promoting European expressionism, but as U.S. attitudes toward Germany and Germans soured, Nierendorf increasingly reached out to avant-garde artists across the Americas, including European exiles, and even visited Mexico to court Wolfgang Paalen and Gordon Onslow Ford. Very little is currently known about Nierendorf’s dealings with pre-Hispanic art—this in spite of the fact that a well-disseminated image of him, held in the archives of the extant Galerie Nierendorf in Berlin, shows him holding and admiring a Colima dog vessel. Earl Stendahl hoped to collaborate with Nierendorf in the cultivation of East Coast clientele for pre-Hispanic art, but a shipment of fake objects procured by Guillermo Echániz, including alleged Zapotec urns, complicated these efforts. Stendahl and Nierendorf did continue to work together, mainly, though not exclusively, around the sale of modern paintings. Nierendorf died in 1947, and his collection was purchased by the Guggenheim, where it remains today.
Karl Nierendorf appears in the letters dated October 22, 1940, November 2, 1940, and November 11, 1940 included in this Research Guide.
1. “Welcome,” “About Us,” Galerie Nierendorf.
2. Megan M. Fontanella, “‘Unity in Diversity:’ Karl Nierendorf in America, 1937-1947,” American Art 24, no. 3 (2010): 114-125.
3. “Karl Nierendorf,” Guggenheim, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
4. April Dammann, Exhibitionist: Earl Stendahl, Art Dealer as Impresario (Santa Monica: Angel City Press, 2011),133–134; Karl Nierendorf to Earl Stendahl, Oct. 12, 1940, Stendahl Art Galleries Records, Correspondence, Box 2, Folder 28, Smithsonian Archives of American Art.
5. “Karl Nierendorf Estate,” Guggenheim, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
Diego Rivera (1886–1957), world-famous Mexican painter and muralist, was also an enthusiastic collector of pre-Hispanic art. Rivera recounted that, as a young boy in Mexico City, he searched for objects that caught his attention in the local public markets, and made purchases on Sundays with his small weekly allowance—a narrative that mirrors Guillermo Echániz’s own origin story as a collector. As adults their two paths would converge and diverge, including in their relationships with Earl Stendahl. Stendahl promoted Rivera’s art in his gallery and beyond, and he spent time socially in Rivera’s circle when visiting Mexico. However, while all three acquired illicitly sourced objects, there was sometimes tension around Rivera’s national and aesthetic ideals as a collector, and Stendahl and Echániz’s practices as dealers. Rivera’s collecting may have been compulsive (he amassed some 59,400 individual objects as an adult), and he did sell objects to collectors and dealers, even out of country, but his motives were not primarily profit-driven. In fact, the acquisition and maintenance of his collection, including the construction of a space he designed to hold it—the Anahuacalli, in San Pablo Tepetlapa, Coyoacán—resulted in a considerable strain on his finances. Rivera had long imagined a home for his collection, and he began concretizing his plans in 1941, the same year that Stendahl and Echániz established their respective gallery-museum homes. In its early years, Anahuacalli served that dual purpose as well. Rivera’s growing visibility as a collector invited acclaim, criticism, and curiosity. Perhaps his most poignant comments on the subject of collecting and collectors appear in a series of interviews conducted with Alfredo Cardona Peña, which were first published as a serial column in El Nacional in 1950, and then collected and published as El monstruo en su laberinto in 1965. The chapter titled “El negocio del arte prehispánico” begins with, the day of an interview, Rivera being accused in the Mexican press of owning stolen artifacts. Rivera disputed this accusation, claiming that, beyond an intense personal interest in the objects themselves, his motivation for collecting at such a large scale was to keep those objects from falling into the hands of traffickers and then being exported to the United States, and that he had already donated his entire extant collection to the nation. Rivera regularly lent pieces from his collection to state-sponsored exhibitions, but while he did, at one point, consider donating his collection and its exhibition space, the Anahuacalli, to the Mexican government, he ultimately decided against it, even while ensuring that it would be accessible to the public. Administered through a trust that Rivera set up with the Banco de México, Museo Anahuacalli opened in 1964, several years after the painter’s death, and the same year that the Museo Nacional de Antropología opened in Chapultepec. President López Mateos presided over the Anahuacalli’s inaugural ceremony. Still, the first iteration of Museo Anahuacalli did not realize Rivera’s complete vision for the project, and work continued over the decades based on his original plans, resulting in a greatly expanded space that opened to the public in late 2021.
Diego Rivera appears in the letters dated December 7, 1940 and August 13, [1941?] included in this Research Guide.
1. Diego Rivera: Coleccionista (México: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2007).
2. Alfredo Cardona Peña, El monstruo en su laberinto. Conversaciones con Diego Rivera, 2nd ed. (México: Editorial Diana S.A., 1980), 89–90.
3. Manuel Mejido, “La Colección Echániz: Un tesoro arqueológico en venta,” Excélsior, Nov. 29, 1964, 108–109, Hemeroteca Nacional de México.
4. April Dammann, Exhibitionist: Earl Stendahl, Art Dealer as Impresario (Santa Monica: Angel City Press, 2011), 78, 134–135, 137, 152, 170, 172.
5. Dolores Olmedo de Olvera, “Museo Diego Rivera,” ”Diego Rivera Museum,” in Anahuacalli. Museo Diego Rivera (México: Artes de México, 1965), 19–24, 33–34.
6. Megan E. O’Neil, “Changing Geographies of the Mesoamerican Antiquities Market circa 1940: Pierre Matisse and Earl Stendahl,” Collecting Mesoamerican Art before 1940, eds. Andrew D. Turner and Megan E. O’Neil (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, forthcoming).
7. Ana García Bergua, “Museum,” Museo Anahuacalli; Diego Rivera and Gladys March, “A Home for My Idols,” in My Art, My Life (New York: Citadel Press, 1960), 249–252; Diego Rivera and Gladys March, “Una casa para mis ídolos,” in Mi arte, mi vida, trans. H. González Casanova (México: Editorial Herrero, S.A.: 1963), 194–197.
8. Rivera and March, My Art, My Life, 140, 251–252, 297; Rivera, March, and González Casanova, Mi arte, mi vida, 110, 196, 232.
9. García Bergua, “What is the Anahuacalli Museum?” Museo Anahuacalli.
10. Rivera and March, My Art, My Life, 250–251; Rivera, March, and Gónzalez Casanova, Mi arte, mi vida, 195.
11. Alfredo Cardona Peña, El monstruo en su laberinto. Conversaciones con Diego Rivera (México: Costa-Amic, 1965); Cardona Peña, Conversations with Diego Rivera: The Monster in his Labyrinth, trans. Alvaro Cardona-Hine (New York: New Village Press, 2018).
12. Alfredo Cardona Peña, “Fotocharlas: Diego Rivera, XLVII,” El Nacional, July 2, 1950, section 2, 3, Hemeroteca Nacional de México; Cardona Peña, “El negocio del arte prehispánico,” in El monstruo (2nd ed.), 85–111; Cardona Peña, “The Business of Pre-Hispanic Art,” in Conversations, 63–84.
13. Cardona Peña, El monstruo (2nd ed.), 88; Cardona Peña, Conversations, 64.
14. Rivera and March, My Art, My Life, 252; Rivera, March, and González Casanova, Mi arte, mi vida, 197.
15. Manuel Aguilar Moreno and Erika Cabrera, Diego Rivera: A Biography (Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2011), xxii.
16. Museo Diego Rivera, Anahuacalli (México: Comité Organizador De Los Juegos De La XIX Olimpiada, 1968), 18.
17. Anna Lagos, “El sueño de Diego Rivera se materializa 80 años después en el Anahuacalli,” El País, Oct. 30, 2021.
Herbert Joseph (“Joe”) Spinden (1879–1967) was a Harvard-trained anthropologist, specializing in the ancient Maya, who served as a curator at the American Museum of Natural History, the Harvard Peabody Museum, the Buffalo Museum of Arts and Sciences, and finally the Brooklyn Museum, where he spent the majority of his career (1929-1950). At Brooklyn, Spinden focused on building the Museum’s collection of pre-Hispanic art from Mexico, Central America, and South America, with forays into viceregal art and U.S. Native American art. It was during his tenure at Brooklyn when Spinden became acquainted with Earl Stendahl and Guillermo Echániz, acting as both an advisor and a client. An avid institutional collector, Spinden promoted a “democratic approach to art appreciation,” which translated into a broader understanding of what was considered art, and a broader public targeted for arts education, including Brooklyn’s school-age and immigrant populations. During a period in which the “Americanization” of immigrants was a goal of many U.S. institutions, Spinden understood “America” not as the United States but as all of the Americas, and he advocated for the valorization of indigenous knowledge, past and present. This ideal is reflected in the broad range of American geographies and cultures examined in the articles and exhibition catalogs produced by Spinden. Still, his most prominent publications focus on his primary specialty—the ancient Maya—and include A Study of Maya Art (1913), Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America (1917), and Maya Art and Civilization (1956), all of which have gone through numerous editions.
Herbert Spinden appears in the letters dated November 13, 1940 and August 13, [1941?] included in this Research Guide.
1. “Herbert Joseph Spinden,” American Museum of Natural History.
2. “Collection: Arts of the Americas,” Brooklyn Museum.
3. Mary E. Miller, “The Art of Ancient Mesoamerica: Collections Forged before 1940,” in Collecting Mesoamerican Art before 1940, eds. Andrew D. Turner and Megan E. O’Neil (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, forthcoming).
4. Nancy B. Rosoff, “As Revealed by Art: Herbert Spinden and the Brooklyn Museum,” Museum Anthropology 28, no. 1 (2005): 47–56.
5. "Curators of Culture: Dr. Herbert J. Spinden,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 5, 1939, Brooklyn Museum Library Collection, Brooklyn Museum.
6. Herbert Joseph Spinden, A Study of Maya Art: Its Subject Matter and Historical Development (Cambridge [Mass.]: Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 1913); Herbert Joseph Spinden, Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1928 [3rd and rev. ed.]); Herbert Joseph Spinden, Maya Art and Civilization (Indian Hills [Colo.]: Falcon's Wing Press, 1957 [revised and enlarged ed. with added illustrations]).
William Spratling (1900–1967) was a U.S.-born silver designer based in Taxco, Guerrero. He was also a collector of pre-Hispanic art, and these objects inspired many of his original creations, as well as the forgeries that were known to be produced in and sold out of his workshop. Spratling was trained in architecture and taught at Tulane University, but after spending time in Mexico via the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México’s international summer programming, he decided to relocate to Mexico permanently, where he forged relationships and collaborations with artist-collectors such as Diego Rivera and Miguel Covarrubias. Spratling appears with great frequency in the Stendahl Art Galleries correspondence: like most collectors of the era, Spratling sold objects as well, including to Earl Stendahl and Guillermo Echániz. Today, much of Spratling’s collection of pre-Hispanic objects can be viewed at the Museo Guillermo Spratling in Taxco. Among his contributions to other institutions in Mexico, Spratling donated 26 objects and sold 102 more to the Museo Nacional de Antropología ahead of its 1964 opening in Chapultepec.
William Spratling appears in the letters dated October 22, 1940, November 11, 1940, November 13, 1940, and August 13, [1941?] included in this Research Guide.
1. Jaime Castrejón Díez, William Spratling: Anatomiá de una pasioń (México: Artes de México, 2003); Taylor Littleton, The Color of Silver: William Spratling, His Life and Art (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000); Joan T. Mark, The Silver Gringo: William Spratling and Taxco (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000); Penny C. Morrill and San Antonio Museum of Art, William Spratling and the Mexican Silver Renaissance: Maestros de plata (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2002); “William Spratling y el renacimiento de la plata en México. Exposición virtual,” Museo Franz Mayer, Google Arts & Culture.
2. “Museo Guillermo Spratling,” Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia; Lee Boltin, Brett Weston, and Bertin Juarez, photographers, “The William Spratling Collection,” Architectural Digest (December 1965): 90-95.
3. Luis Aveleyra Arroyo de Anda, “Colecciones arqueológicas particulares adquiridas para el museo, junio de 1963 a mayo de 1964,” in Obras selectas del arte prehispánico: Adquisiciones recientes (México: Museo Nacional de Antropología, 1964 [Edición conmemorativa de la inauguración del nuevo edificio del Museo Nacional de Antropología]), unpaginated.
Earl Stendahl (1888–1966) was a candymaker, entrepreneur, and prominent U.S.-based art dealer. As a young man, Stendahl moved with his wife Enid (1889–1970) from Wisconsin to California, and in 1921 they established, in Los Angeles, what would become one of the most influential art galleries of the 20th century, particularly for pre-Hispanic art: the Stendahl Art Gallery. First located at the Ambassador Hotel, followed by a space on Wilshire Boulevard, the gallery initially sold art from California, elsewhere in the U.S., and Europe. In the early 1930s, the gallery began to exhibit modern Mexican art, showing the works of such artists as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. In the second half of that decade, Stendahl’s inventory expanded to include ancient Mexican art, inspired by the Brummer Gallery, the Pierre Matisse Gallery, and others in New York City and Paris. The growing interest in pre-Hispanic art circa 1940, particularly through the groundbreaking exhibition at MoMA, Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art, co-curated by Mexican and U.S. curators, helped expand knowledge of and desires for museums and private collectors to acquire pre-Hispanic art, which in turn helped fuel Stendahl’s growing business. In order to advance, Stendahl had to expand his own client base and increase sales so that he could also increase his inventory. Stendahl (as well as other dealers like Matisse) corresponded with private collectors, museums, and board members who had already bought other types of art from him, working to cultivate clients with eclectic interests. In letters to dealers, museum directors, curators, and collectors, Stendahl reported his acquisitions and trips to Mexico and other countries—although, in those communications, he did not reveal that many pieces came from active looting operations—and he obtained consular invoices to legally import items into the U.S., even when the items were being smuggled out of Mexico. The Stendahl Galleries also developed museum exhibitions in California and elsewhere to encourage awareness of and interest in pre-Hispanic art, both for educational purposes and, presumably, to promote sales to private collectors and museums. The Stendahl Galleries was ultimately of such influence that Stendahl’s economic and aesthetic choices as a dealer of pre-Hispanic art continue to shape the art historical and archaeological canons today—and through those canons, current understanding of pre-Hispanic cultures. Stendahl’s choices were influenced, in turn, by those of Guillermo Echániz, the Mexico City bookseller and antiquarian who was one of Stendahl’s first major suppliers of pre-Hispanic art. At the launch of their joint ventures, they communicated with detailed letters, usually typed. Stendahl kept copies of the letters he sent to Echániz, allowing for a full record of their exchange: they seem not to have used the telephone for any business whatsoever, perhaps an indication of either the cost of international calls or the availability of private telephone lines. The visions and activities of Stendahl and Echániz developed very much in tandem, including the homes they designed to serve as exhibition spaces and places of business: Mar Arafura 8 in Popotla, and 7055 Hillside Avenue in Hollywood. The cost of renovations for these two properties put pressure on Echániz and Stendahl to double down on their efforts to bring objects to market, and at one point in their partnership, c. 1942, they saw their solution in Teotihuacan. The irony should not be lost that their plan to fund the renovation of their own houses rested on the destruction of pre-Hispanic residential compounds. Stendahl and Echániz’s partnership grew in step with their gallery-homes which, while the source of great financial stress and mutual frustration during construction and renovation, proved to be worthy investments. Stendahl’s collecting activities eventually branched out into other geographic areas, including Panama, and Costa Rica, and even Egyptian and Sasanian art, and his son Alfred (“Al”) began to handle more of the correspondence and negotiations with Echániz, until the death of Echániz in 1965. Earl Stendahl died the following year while on a buying trip in Morocco; his wife Enid died at home four years after that. Their son Al and son-in-law Joe Dammann, followed by their grandson Ron Dammann and his wife April Dammann, continued to run the family business from their Hollywood gallery, then based at 7065 Hillside Avenue, until finally closing it in 2017. Stendahl Art Galleries records are held in two repositories: the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art and the Getty Research Institute’s Special Collections. The pre-Hispanic objects sold by the Stendahls and Dammanns are found in museums and private collections across the United States, Europe, and beyond.
1. April Dammann, Exhibitionist: Earl Stendahl, Art Dealer as Impresario (Santa Monica: Angel City Press, 2011); Ellen Hoobler, “Smoothing the Path for Rough Stones: The Changing Role of Pre-Columbian Art in the Arensberg Collection,” Hollywood Arensberg: Avant-Garde Collecting in Midcentury L.A, 343–398, Mark Nelson, William H. Sherman, and Ellen Hoobler, eds. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2020); Allison Ransom, “Biographical / Historical,” Stendahl Art Galleries Records, 1880–2003, Collection Inventories and Finding Aids, Getty Research Institute.
2. The Museum of Modern Art, in Collaboration with the Mexican Government, Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art / Veinte Siglos de Arte Mexicano (México: Instituto de Antropología e Historia de México; New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1940) [PDF].
3. Megan E. O’Neil and Mary E. Miller, “‘An Artistic Discovery of America’: Mexican Antiquities in Los Angeles 1940–1960s,” in Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915-1985, ed. Wendy Kaplan (Munich: DelMonico Books; Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2017), 162–167; Megan E. O’Neil, “Changing Geographies of the Mesoamerican Antiquities Market circa 1940: Pierre Matisse and Earl Stendahl,” Collecting Mesoamerican Art before 1940, eds. Andrew D. Turner and Megan E. O’Neil (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, forthcoming).
4. Dammann, Exhibitionist, 130-131; Hoobler, “Smoothing the Path,” 371–373, 377, 379–380, 394–396.
5. Box 11, Folders 8–9, Stendahl Art Galleries Records (2017.M.38), Getty Research Institute.
6. Stendahl Art Galleries records, 1907-1971, Smithsonian Archives of American Art.
7. Stendahl Art Galleries records, 1880-2003, Getty Research Institute.
Robert van de Kerchove d’Hallebast (1890–1974) was a career diplomat and Belgian aristocrat knighted in the Order of Leopold. He served as Belgium’s Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico 1937–1940, and renewed the extradition treaty between the two nations. Van de Kerchove amassed a large collection of pre-Hispanic objects while serving as Belgian Minister to Mexico. According to Diego Rivera, the diplomat acquired these objects with the help of advisors, including antiquarians, and like many domestic and foreign elites, did not conceal but rather proudly displayed his collection to archaeologists in the Mexican government. The objects’ illicit exportation from Mexico would have been facilitated by Article 11.1 of the “Decreto de 7 de enero de 1936,” which allowed the belongings of diplomats to pass through customs without inspection. While van de Kerchove donated a number of objects to the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, some objects never arrived in Belgium, having been sold to dealers like Pierre Matisse and John Wise in New York City, where van de Kerchove and his wife resided after departing Mexico in April 1940, and to where he returned in March of 1945. Mrs. van de Kerchove was herself a collector and a patron of the arts. She was the subject of a portrait by Diego Rivera, and the owner of at least one other painting by the artist (Madre y niña). She also owned a painting by Roberto Montenegro (Niña indígena), a curator of the groundbreaking exhibition 20 Centuries of Mexican Art held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (May 15–September 30, 1940). The van de Kerchoves would have been able to see the MoMA exhibition, having arrived at New York via Veracruz on April 23, 1940, just ahead of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Belgium. “Mrs. Robert van de Kerchove d’Hallebast” is listed as a sponsor of the 1942 exhibition Flemish Primitives, a collaboration between the Belgian government-in-exile (seated in London), and the Belgian Information Center and the Knoedler Galleries (both in New York City), for “the benefit of the Belgian sailors with the Allied Navy.” The following year, Robert van de Kerchove was posted as Ambassador to the USSR (1943–1944), but was recalled at the request of the Soviets due to his outspoken criticism of Stalin’s regime. He also served on the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan (1949–1950), and in Turkey (1952–1954) and the International Zone of Tangier (1955–1956), among other assignments. He died in Brussels in 1974, and little is known about the disposition of any parts of his collection not donated to the Royal Museums.
Robert van de Kerchove d’Hallebast appears in the letters dated July 31, 1941, August 4, 1941, and August 13, [1941?] included in this Research Guide, and is referred to as the “Belgian Ambassador.”
1. King Leopold III of Belgium to President Lázaro Cárdenas of Mexico, Jan. 22, 1937, Expediente III/323(493)/11, Folio 19, Personal Diplomático Extranjero, “R. Van de Kerchove d’Hallebast, Ministro Bélgica en México, Su expediente personal,” Archivo Histórico Genaro Estrada, Acervo Histórico Diplomático, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Estados Unidos Mexicanos.
2. “Decreto que promulga la Convención de Extradición entre México y Bélgica,” Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Diario Oficial, Órgano del Gobierno Constitucional de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Sección Primera, Tomo CXV, Núm. 39 (Aug. 15, 1939): 2–5.
3. Alfredo Cardona Peña, El monstruo en su laberinto. Conversaciones con Diego Rivera, 2nd ed. (México: Editorial Diana S.A., 1980; 1st Ed. 1965), 105-106; Conversations with Diego Rivera: The Monster in his Labyrinth, trans. Alvaro Cardona-Hine (New York: New Village Press, 2018), 79–80. (Note: the English edition does include the rough transcription of van de Kerchove’s name)
4. “Reglamento del Decreto de 7 de enero de 1936,” Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Diario Oficial, Órgano del Gobierno Constitucional de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Tomo CXXI, Núm. 15 (July 18, 1940): 2–5.
5. Megan E. O’Neil, “Changing Geographies of the Mesoamerican Antiquities Market circa 1940: Pierre Matisse and Earl Stendahl,” Collecting Mesoamerican Art before 1940, eds. Andrew D. Turner and Megan E. O’Neil (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, forthcoming).
6. van de Kerchove d'Hallebast, Mrs. R., 1943–1945, John and Nora Wise Papers / Professional / Correspondence, Box 20, Folder 9, 1943–1945, Dallas Museum of Art Archives / SC-025.
7. Robert van de Kerchove, Diplomat, Rauna van de Kerchove, Diplomat, List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigrant Inspector at Port of Arrival, New York, U.S., April 23, 1940 [Sailing from Vera Cruz, Mexico, April 17, 1940], S.S. Mexico, List 3, National Archives and Records Administration.
8. Robert van de Kerchove d’Hallebast, Foreign Official, List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigrant Inspector at Port of Arrival, New York, U.S., March 30, 1945 [Sailing from Liverpool, England, March 22, 1945], S.S. Pasteur, List 4, National Archives and Records Administration.
9. Diego Rivera, Portrait of Baroness van de Kerchove d'Hallebast, 1939, charcoal and pastel, 62 x 48 cm. (24.4 x 18.9 in.), Artnet.
10. Diego Rivera, Madre y niña, 1939, oil on canvas, 8 x 29.6 in. 39 3/4 x 29 5/8 in. (101 x 75.2 cm.), Lot 26, Latin American Art, Sale Number N08998, May 28, 2013, Sotheby’s, New York.
11. Roberto Montenegro, Niña indígena, c. 1936, oil on canvas, 21 3/8 x 17 3/8 in. (54.3 x 44.1 cm.), Lot 173, Latin American Art, Live Auction Number 3745, May 27–28, 2015, Christie’s, New York.
12. The Museum of Modern Art, in Collaboration with the Mexican Government, Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art / Veinte Siglos de Arte Mexicano (México: Instituto de Antropología e Historia de México; New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1940) [PDF].
13. Flemish Primitives, an Exhibition Organized by the Belgian Government through the Belgian Information Center, New York, April 13, 1942 to May 9, 1942 at the Galleries of M. Knoedler and Co., Inc, New York City (New York City: Belgian Information Center, 1942), unpaginated.
14. Maarten Van Alstein, “From Enigma to Enemy: Paul-Henri Spaak, the Belgian Diplomatic Elite, and the Soviet Union, 1944–1945,” Journal of Cold War Studies 13, no. 3 (2011): 126–48.
15. “Annex VIII,” Yearbook of the United Nations 1948–49 (Lake Success, New York: Department of Public Information, United Nations, 1950), 88; “Annex II, E,” Yearbook of the United Nations 1950 (New York: Columbia University Press in Co-Operation with the United Nations, 1951), 56.
16. “Van de Kerchove d'Hallebast, Robert,” Producteurs, Archives de particuliers, Les archives de l'État en Belgique.
Germaine Wenziner (1893–1950) of Belgium is best known for her photographs of the archaeological sites and Indigenous Lacandon peoples of Chiapas, Mexico, as well as for her now-dispersed collection of pre-Hispanic art sourced from Mexico and Central America. She acquired many of these objects while traveling in Mexico during the late 1930s—including a period from 1938–1939 in which she undertook a “study mission” for Belgium’s Royal Museums of Art and History, where a considerable number of these pieces still remain—and she continued collecting when she returned to Mexico after World War II. In the world of Mexican arts and collecting, Wenziner was acquainted with Miguel Covarrubias, and she was also a friend and admirer of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. In fact, Rivera dedicated a painting to Wenziner (Retrato de niña) in 1937, and Wenziner penned an essay for the monograph that accompanied the exhibition Diego Rivera: 50 años de su labor artística (1949). She also befriended a young Manuel Felguérez, who sold Wenziner and Rivera pre-Hispanic objects for their collections, and accompanied Wenziner to Bonampak in 1949 ahead of Carlos Frey’s ill-fated expedition. In addition to collecting, Wenziner published a two-part article titled “L'influence toltèque sur l'art totonaque” in Bulletin de la Société des Américanistes de Belgique (1939–1940), and on March 6, 1950, Wenziner was named a Knight in the Order of the Crown as an “archaeologist-patron.” She died in a traffic collision in Spa, Belgium, less than eight months later. Her collection at the Royal Museums, studied in part by Annie Dorsinfang-Smets in the 1950s, has since moved between the Museums and Wenziner’s family. Most recently, the Paris auction house Artcurial auctioned works from her collection (2016, 2018, 2021). In October 2021, the Mexican Embassy in France formally protested Artcurial’s imminent auction of pre-Hispanic objects from the collections of Wenziner and others, and Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, Mexico’s Secretary of Culture, expressed her indignation as well.
Germaine Wenziner appears in the letters dated November 13, 1940 and August 4, 1941 included in this Research Guide, and is referred to as “A Belgian woman” and “Mis. Benzinaire,” respectively, with the latter reflecting the phonetic spelling of her name by Guillermo Echániz.
1. Germaine Wenziner, Photographs, America Collection, Musées royaux d'art et d'histoire (Brussels).
2. Jaime Torres Bodet to C. Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, Oct. 17, 1938, Expediente III/315.1(493)/11413, Folio 1, “Wenziner, Germaine. 1938. Viaje a México de la Srta….,” Archivo Histórico Genaro Estrada, Acervo Histórico Diplomático, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Estados Unidos Mexicanos.
3. Germaine Wenziner and Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire - Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis, Lacandon (Brussels: MRAH-KMKG / Buch Edition, 2006).
4. Jaime Moreno Villarreal, Frida en París, 1939 (México: Turner, 2021), 196–197.
5. Diego Rivera, Retrato de niña, 1937, charcoal and chalk on paper, 18.62 x 11.81 (47.30 x 30 cm.), Lot 336, Impressionist & Modern Art – Day Sale, Sale Number 4140, December 8, 2021, Artcurial, Paris.
6. Germaine Wenziner, “El pensamiento en la obra de Diego Rivera,” in Diego Rivera: 50 años de su labor artística. Exposición de homenaje nacional (México: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1951), 49–60.
7. Silvia Cherem, “Manuel Felguérez,” in Trazos y revelaciones. Entrevistas a diez artistas mexicanos (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2004), 128–160.
8. Germaine Wenziner, “L'influence toltèque sur l'art totonaque. I,” Bulletin de la Société des Américanistes de Belgique 30 (1939): 134–142; Germaine Wenziner, “L'influence toltèque sur l'art totonaque. II,” Bulletin de la Société des Américanistes de Belgique 31 (1940): 3–18.
9. “Chevalier,” Moniteur Belge, No. 217 (Brussels, Belgium), Aug. 4, 1950.
10. “Un train entre en collision avec une voiture à Nivezé,” La Meuse (Liège, Belgium), Oct. 31–Nov. 1, 1950 (night edition).
11. Annie Dorsinfang-Smets, "Les Metates de Costa Rica des Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (Bruxelles)," Journal de la Société des Américanistes 44 (1955): 131–147; Annie Dorsinfang-Smets, "Une dalle sculptée d'Amérique centrale," Journal de la Société des Américanistes 47 (1958): 55–66.
12. “Art précolombien. Ancienne collection Germaine Wenziner” (Lots 123–154), in Arts d’Orient & art précolombien provenant de la Collection G. Wenziner. Vente no. 3052 (Paris: Artcurial, 2016), 102–129; “Ancienne collection Germaine Wenziner” (Lots 252–268), in Archéologie, arts d'Orient et art précolombien. Vente no. 3338 (Paris: Artcurial, 2018), 174–183; “Ancienne collection Germaine Wenziner” (Lots 199–216), in Archéologie, arts d’Orient & art précolombien. Vente no. 4141 (Paris: Artcurial, 2021), 129–139.
13. La Embajada de México en Francia, “La Embajada de México en Francia expresa su preocupación por las próximas subastas de bienes prehispánicos mexicanos en París,” Comunicado no. 02, Oct. 28, 2021, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores.
14. Mónica Mateos-Vega, “Pese a protestas del gobierno de México, subastan en Francia piezas prehispánicas,” La Jornada, Nov. 3, 2021.
15. Alejandra Frausto Guerrero (Secretary of Culture, Mexico) to Artcurial, Oficio No. SC/314/2021, Oct. 31, 2021.
Wendell L. Willkie (1892–1944) was an Indiana-born corporate utilities attorney based in New York City, and a former Democrat, who ran as the Republican nominee for U.S. President in 1940 against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Earl Stendahl was confident and hopeful that Willkie would win. After losing to FDR, Willkie became the President’s staunch supporter and ally, promoting the war effort and internationalism abroad while speaking out against isolationism, nationalism, and racism at home. Willkie’s profile as a New York businessman with no political background, but who moved beyond partisanship after his defeat, has led to renewed interest in his story in recent years.
Wendell Willkie appears in the letters dated October 22, 1940 and November 2, 1940 included in this Research Guide.
1. C. Stephen Heard, Jr., “When Reason Trumped Politics: The Remarkable Political Partnership of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Wendell L. Willkie,” The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation, Harvard College.
2. Samuel Zipp, The Idealist: Wendell Willkie’s Wartime Quest to Build One World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2020).
3. Peter Feuerherd, “An Untested Businessman Almost Became President During WWII,” JSTOR Daily, Feb. 27, 2019; David Levering Lewis, The Improbable Wendell Willkie (New York: Liveright, 2018); Thomas Mallon, “Can the G.O.P. Ever Reclaim Wendell Willkie’s Legacy?” The New Yorker, Sept. 17, 2018; Wendell L. Willkie II, “My Grandfather was a Republican Nominee Who Put Country First,” The Atlantic, Oct. 6, 2018.