"The History of Mexico" - Diego Rivera

Celebrated Mexican painter Diego Rivera transcribed the history of Mexico in a mural in his own style of painting on the main staircase of the National Palace of Mexico City. The staircase leads to the second floor of the courtyard which still houses the main offices of government entities of Mexico. Mexico is a country that has experienced various revolutions throughout its history and the mural tells the story of them all, even the indigenous beginnings. The Mexican government craved a change in their style of leadership. Leadership pushed for a mural and art movement throughout the country. The government shifted from the ideologist of the nineteenth century into a modern political and social model. Soon after, the first president during this period encourage education and cultural propaganda by creating the Mexican mural movement.

The final masterpiece was completed after six long years. Diego Rivera started painting the mural in 1929 and was completed in 1935, soon after the Mexican Revolution. The mural showcases Mexico’s history from early native Aztec world to the “future/present” Mexico. The different walls surrounding the staircase portray important historical events like the conquest, the colonial period, the Independence movement, the Revolution, the 1920s and 30s, and the “present” Mexico.

The right wall and the north wall start the chronological time line of the mural. The painting is based on the pre-conquest period of Mexico. The painting is set in a volcanic landscape where the indigenousness Aztec community is in social and cultural activities. The Feather Serpent (Quetzalcóatl) also appears on the top right corner surrounded by an audience of farmers and artisans. The west wall is not set in a particular order and the figures are less notable. The ideologies of Diego Rivera are presented in his work, as he was an active member of the Communist Party. The military, farmers and workers are display fighting for a better Mexico. In the center of the staircase, the painting on the wall represents different scenarios during the history of Mexico. The five main scenarios of Mexico’s Independence: The North American intervention of 1847, the second intervention by the French, the death of Maximiliano de Habsburgo, the liberal reform of 1857, the battle for Independence of 1810, and the Mexican Revolution of 1910. The mural explains the conflicts that Mexico encountered and represents the hope and dreams of the people. It is also notable that Rivera painted his future wife, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, in the mural before they wedded.