In seventeenth-century Mexico City, the viceroys appointed by the kings of Spain began their tenures by processing through two ephemeral triumphal arches, one of them erected at the portal to the west transept of the Metropolitan Cathedral. The designs of those arches and their decoration with paintings on mythological themes are recorded in festival books printed to accompany the ceremonial entries. Previous scholarship has focused on the iconographic programs of the arches, seeing them as official statements on good government and the expression of an elite self-image. Less attention has been paid to the architectural structures themselves, the focus of ATriumphal Arch for the Count of Moctezuma: Architectural Poetics and Artistic Competition at the Cathedral of Mexico City, ca. 1670–1700. In this essay, Michael Schreffler presents a close and comparative reading of the descriptions of the arches in the festival books, providing insights into architectural knowledge and artistic competition in seventeenth-century Mexico City.

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