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Finding aid for the José Guadalupe Posada prints, 1880-1943
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: José Guadalupe Posada prints
    Date (inclusive): 1880-1943
    Number: 960060
    Creator/Collector: Posada, José Guadalupe, 1852-1913
    Physical Description: 6.0 linear feet (375 prints)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: A largely self-taught artist who produced more than 20,000 prints, his most well-known pieces for the publisher Antonio Vanegas Arroyo in Mexico City. Most were illustrated broadsides on brightly colored paper and sold by strolling vendors throughout Mexico. Posada influenced the 20th-century Mexican muralists, for whom he was the quintessentially Mexican populist artist. Collection includes newspapers, chapbooks, half-sheet and full-sheet broadsides, all of which are illustrated with Posada's prints.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in Spanish; Castilian

    Biographical Historical Note

    José Guadalupe Posada was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico in 1852 and died in Mexico City in 1913. His life span thus encompasses the last half century of the Mexican struggle for independence from colonial powers and the establishment of a liberal government that would sign a democratic Constitution in 1917. It is frequently observed that Posada's work expresses the hopes and fears of the Mexican people during this time of social upheaval, and that Posada's work, prolific, widely disseminated and extremely popular, helped to educate a largely non-literate population about the urgent political issues of the day.
    To a great extent a self-taught artist, Posada apprenticed, when he was not quite twenty years old, in the lithographic printing shop of Trinidad Pedrozo in Aguascalientes, where he illustrated the independent newspaper El Jicote. Forced to leave Aguascalientes for political reasons, Pedrozo and Posada went to León, where in 1876 Posada was put in charge of the printmaking shop and in 1884 given a position teaching lithography at a secondary school.
    In 1888 Posada moved to Mexico City, where he worked for various newspapers, including La Patria Ilustrada. In 1890, Posada joined the staff of Antonio Vanegas Arroyo's publishing house, a position he would hold for the rest of his life. Before moving to Mexico City, Posada had produced woodcuts or lithographs, but now he began engraving on type metal and, after 1900, turned to relief etching on zinc. Working for Arroyo and other publishers as well, Posada produced prints for newspapers, broadsides, and chapbooks on a wide range of topics, including fortune-telling, pet care, love, crime, miracles, and politics. Most of these were printed on brightly colored paper and sold by strolling vendors throughout the country. It is estimated that in his forty year career, Posada produced over 20,000 engravings.
    When they were very young, Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco visited Posada in his workshop and deeply admired him. Later Posada served as a model for the Mexican muralists and other artists, who emulated his use of an indigenous Mexican style, commitment to a populist art form, and explicit political content. In 1920, Jean Charlot, a French artist collaborating on a mural with Rivera, was intrigued by the broadsides sold on the streets that still bore Posada's prints. He was the first to publish articles about Posada's work, theorizing its relevance for Mexican modernists. Since then, a quantity of critical writings have proclaimed Posada Mexico's greatest printmaker.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    José Guadalupe Posada prints, 1880-1943, Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 960060.

    Acquisition Information

    The Posada prints were acquired in five separate purchases. The first acquisition, October 1996, was assigned accession number 960060. Prints were subsequently acquired in October 1996 (960083), November 1996 (960085), February 1998 (P980002) and March 1998 (P970005, previously 970004).

    Processing History

    In August 1998 5 separate acquisitions were integrated into a single collection. under the accession number 960060. Alma Dizon did the preliminary cataloging and processing in Spring 1998. Annette Leddy completed it and wrote the finding aid in August 1998.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    There are 375 items in the collection, dating from 1888, the year Posada moved to Mexico City, until 1923, ten years after his death, during which period the prints were reissued in various contexts. There are two sets of prints done much later, as commemorative collections, one of which was published in 1943.
    While the collection includes newspapers and chapbooks, the greatest portion of material consists of the half sheet and full sheet broadsides. These broadside prints cover the full range of topics Posada illustrated, from freaks of nature, to firing squads to lives of saints. Among these, thirty-three feature Posada's most famous character, the Calaveras, and fifteen feature Don Chepito. There are also five games.
    Most of the material was produced for the A. Vanegas Arroyo publishing house, but there are also issues of the newspaper La Patria Ilustrada, edited by Ireneo Paz, and a chapbook series, Biblioteca del niño mexicano, published by the Maucci brothers. The collection contains no prints Posada made while working in Aguascalientes or León.
    Note: cetain items encompass two series, i.e., broadside and newspaper.

    Arrangement note

    The prints are organized by format, and within that, arranged in rough chronological order. Many prints are not dated.
    The collection is organized in four series: Series I. Newspapers, 1880-1906 Series II. Chapbooks, ca. 1890-1923 Series III. Half sheet broadsides, ca. 1899-1943 Series IV. Full sheet broadsides, ca. 1892-ca. 1919

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Posada, José Guadalupe, 1852-1913
    Zapata, Emiliano, 1879-1919

    Subjects - Topics

    Broadsides -- Mexico -- 19th century
    Prints -- Mexico -- 19th century

    Genres and Forms of Material



    Berdecio, Roberto and Stanley Appelbaum, Posada's Popular Mexican Prints, New York, 1972.
    Gamboa, Fernando and Carl O. Schniewind and Hugh L. Edwards, Posada: Printmaker to the Mexican People, Chicago, 1944.
    Museo Nacional de Arte, Posada y la prensa ilustrada: signos de modernización y resistencias, Mexico, 1996.
    Rivera, Diego and Fernando Gamboa and Jean Charlot, Life and Work of the Engraver José Guadalupe Posada, Mexico, 1958.
    Tyler, Ron, Posada's Mexico, Washington, 1979.