On 18 December 1696, José Sarmiento de Valladares, the Count of Moctezuma, arrived in Mexico City, where he would begin his tenure as viceroy of the kingdom of New Spain.1 As the representative and alter ego of the Spanish king Charles II (r. 1665–1700), he would govern a vast territory extending from the Isthmus of Panama northward into parts of what is today the United States, and reaching across the Pacific to the Philippine Islands. In Mexico City, New Spain's seat of governance, he would reside in a palace facing onto the Plaza Mayor with his wife, María Andrea de Guzmán, their children, and some of the eighty retainers who accompanied the family on the transatlantic journey from the Spanish port of Cádiz to the Americas.2

Like the thirty-one viceroys who had preceded him in New Spain since the establishment of the office in 1535, Sarmiento (1643–1708) was welcomed in Mexico City with great fanfare. A highlight of the festivities was a ritual with deep historical roots: the passage of the new viceroy through two triumphal arches erected and decorated especially for the occasion. One was sponsored by the municipal council (cabildo municipal) and stood in a plaza fronting the church and monastery of Santo Domingo, a few blocks north of the Plaza Mayor. It was there that the councillors presented him with the keys to the city, a symbolic act marking his taking possession of the office. In his brief account of Sarmiento's passage through that arch, the cleric and diarist Antonio de Robles (1665–1703) wryly notes that the horse the viceroy was riding threw him, causing his wig to fall off.3 No such indignity was recorded for his passage through the second arch. Sponsored by the Metropolitan Cathedral's governing chapter (cabildo eclesiástico; hereafter, cathedral chapter) and constructed at the portal to the western arm of the cathedral's transept, that arch welcomed the viceroy into the cavernous vaulted space where he would be honored at a service celebrated by the archbishop, Francisco de Aguiar y Seijas (1632–98) (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Claudio de Arciniega, Juan Gómez de Trasmonte, et al., Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, 1573–1810, view from the west, with the frontispiece to the transept portal by Cristóbal de Medina Vargas et al., completed 1689, at left and the north wing of the National Palace, formerly the Royal Palace, in the background at right (photo: iStock.com/Elijah Lovkoff).

Figure 1

Claudio de Arciniega, Juan Gómez de Trasmonte, et al., Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, 1573–1810, view from the west, with the frontispiece to the transept portal by Cristóbal de Medina Vargas et al., completed 1689, at left and the north wing of the National Palace, formerly the Royal Palace, in the background at right (photo: iStock.com/Elijah Lovkoff).

The design and decoration of the cathedral chapter's arch for the Count of Moctezuma is recorded in a quarto-sized festival book published in Mexico City in 1696 and titled Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] (Illustrious Zodiac of Heroic Emblems Revolving around the Political Sun […]; hereafter, Zodíaco ilustre) (Figure 2). Its author, the poet Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, writes that the arch measured 30 varas (25 meters, or 82.5 feet) in height and consisted of three stories. Adorned with elements in the Corinthian, Composite, and Doric orders, it was, he writes, “an exquisite wonder of architecture.”4

Figure 2

Title page from Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] (Mexico City: Juan Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696; Medina Microfilm Collection, John Hay Library, Brown University).

Figure 2

Title page from Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] (Mexico City: Juan Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696; Medina Microfilm Collection, John Hay Library, Brown University).

Zodíaco ilustre is one of at least forty such books printed to accompany the ceremonial entries of viceroys into Mexico City during the seventeenth century.5 Among the authors commissioned to compose the texts for these publications were the city's most celebrated poets. In addition to Ramírez de Vargas, this group included the Hieronymite nun Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651–95) and the polymath Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645–1700), both of whom composed texts for the entry of the Viceroy Marquis of la Laguna in 1680.6 Similar books were printed and sold in Mexico City and throughout the early modern Spanish world to mark momentous events (births, deaths, and marriages) in the lives of kings and members of the royal family; others recorded religious celebrations such as the feasts of Corpus Christi and the Immaculate Conception and the dedications of churches.7

Scholars of festival culture regard publications like Zodíaco ilustre as primary sources for the study of the viceregal entry, citing them as evidence for the ways in which poetry and prose complemented architecture, visual imagery, and ritual practice in communicating and reinforcing ideas about good governance, the legitimacy of rule, civic identity, and social hierarchies for an ethnically and economically diverse audience.8 Many studies have focused on the messages conveyed by individual arches, and the thematic programs designed by Juana Inés de la Cruz and Sigüenza y Góngora for the entry of the Viceroy Marquis of la Laguna have been the objects of particularly extensive inquiry.9 Research on the festival books themselves (as opposed to the arches and the events they accompanied) has explored their representation of the aspirations and self-images of their powerful patrons and readers, their authors' references to architectural and literary sources from classical antiquity to the seventeenth-century present, and a range of formal concerns, including their conventional structure and contents, their use of classical modes of rhetoric, and their relationships to other literary genres.10

This study takes a different approach, considering printed descriptions of the cathedral chapter's arches in the late seventeenth century and focusing on architectural design rather than iconographic or literary programs. An examination of similarities and differences among these arches in the context of the changing dimensions and appearance of their architectural backdrop, the west façade of the cathedral, sheds light on aspects of their construction and the relationship between ephemeral and permanent architecture in this place and time. At the same time, it provides insight into the dynamics of artistic competition in an extraordinarily rich era of multidisciplinary creative production in Mexico City. Ramírez de Vargas's Zodíaco ilustre, which is devoted to a little-studied arch and the first to be erected in front of the completed portal to the cathedral's west transept, is an illuminating point of entry into the subject.11

“An Exquisite Wonder of Architecture”

Ramírez de Vargas's publication of 1696 opens with a cumbersome title introducing the theme of the triumphal arch erected for the Count of Moctezuma's entry into the cathedral:

Illustrious zodiac of heroic coats of arms revolving around the political sun; image of princes that mythological wisdom hid in her Theban Hercules; deciphered in poetic ideas, and expressed in the colors of painting set in place on the festive apparatus of the triumphal arch erected on the most joyful day to the Most Excellent Lord Sir Joseph Sarmiento Valladares.12

The ornamentation of the arch, Ramírez de Vargas writes, compares the “prince”—the Count of Moctezuma—to Hercules, the hero of classical antiquity born in Thebes and celebrated for his strength, a quality demonstrated by the twelve labors he is said to have performed. By the late seventeenth century, the practice of equating viceroys with mythological figures as part of the festivities marking the start of their tenure had been ongoing for decades. The ephemeral arch welcoming Diego López Pacheco, the Marquis of Villena, in 1640 likened him to Mercury; slightly more than a decade later, the one erected for the entrance of the Duke of Alburquerque associated him with Mars; and in 1664, an arch set up for the arrival of the Marquis of Mancera linked him to Aeneas.13 The messages conveyed by the imagery adorning the arches and printed in the accompanying festival books were highly predictable: the mythological figures were presented as exemplars of virtue and good governance and were equated with the persons of the incoming viceroys.14

The theme Ramírez de Vargas chose for the Count of Moctezuma's arch partakes of a long tradition in which Hercules was seen not only as an embodiment of strength and princely virtue but also as an illustrious ancestor of the kings of Spain. The emblematic device of Charles V, which featured the columns of Hercules, emphasized that connection; so too did Francisco Zurbarán's 1634 series of paintings of the demigod for the Hall of Realms in Philip IV's Buen Retiro Palace. In New Spain, Herculean iconography carried the same associations, appearing, for example, on the ephemeral tomb constructed in Mexico City to mark the death of Charles V and on the cathedral chapter's triumphal arch for the Viceroy Count of Alva de Aliste in 1650.15 In the context of the viceregal entry, the role of Hercules as a royal ancestor accentuated the viceroy's status as the king's alter ego by grafting the lineage of the latter onto the former.16

The twelve paintings adorning the arch erected by the cathedral chapter in 1696 promoted the ostensible similarities between Hercules and the new viceroy. Among them were images of the slaying of the Hydra and the Nemean lion, the capture of the Erymanthian boar and the hind of Artemis, and the theft of the mares of Diomedes and the apples of the Hesperides.17 This image of the Count of Moctezuma, focusing squarely on his physical strength, contrasts with that presented in his surviving official portraits, which emphasize his nobility rather than his might. One of these portraits includes an inscription at the bottom of the canvas that identifies him using honorific forms of address, his title of nobility, and his royal appointment as viceroy and captain general (Figure 3). His coat of arms appears in the upper left corner, and he wears the red insignia of the Order of Santiago on his voluminous cloak as well as on the jeweled brooch on his chest.

Figure 3

Unknown artist, El Ex[celentísi]mo S[eñ]or D[on] Joseph Sarmiento de Valladares […], ca. 1696 (Salón de Virreyes, Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento, Mexico City; photo by Jorge Moreno Cárdenas).

Figure 3

Unknown artist, El Ex[celentísi]mo S[eñ]or D[on] Joseph Sarmiento de Valladares […], ca. 1696 (Salón de Virreyes, Antiguo Palacio del Ayuntamiento, Mexico City; photo by Jorge Moreno Cárdenas).

Ramírez de Vargas, too, touts Sarmiento's nobility, doing so conspicuously on the title page of Zodíaco ilustre:

Knight of the Order of Santiago, Count of Moctezuma, and of Tula, Viscount of Ilucan, Lord of the town of Monterrosano, and of La Pesa, of the Council of His Majesty, Viceroy, Governor, and Captain General of this New Spain, and President of the Royal Audiencia, and Chancery, in which resides the Holy Metropolitan Church of Mexico.18

One can hardly imagine a more resonant title for a viceroy of New Spain, the kingdom that took shape following the invasion and conquest of the Aztec Empire, than Count of Moctezuma. Sarmiento, however, had no direct ancestral connection to either of the two Aztec rulers of that name.19 Born to Christian parents in Galicia, in northwestern Spain, he had acquired the title through marriage to his first wife, María Jerónima Moctezuma y Jofre de Loaiza (d. 1692), a descendant of the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II. It was her grandfather, Pedro Tesifón (d. 1639), on whom the crown had bestowed the titles Count of Moctezuma and of Tula, Viscount of Ilucan, and Lord of La Pesa earlier in the seventeenth century. At María Jerónima Moctezuma's death in 1692, her husband retained the titles. Two years later, he married María Andrea de Guzmán y Dávila, who would become the vicereine of New Spain.20

The coat of arms that Sarmiento acquired through his first marriage and that appears in the portrait described above is also reproduced in Zodíaco ilustre, where it looms over the first lines of a text authored by members of the cathedral chapter (Figure 4). Addressing the viceroy directly, the clerics praise him effusively as they introduce the mythological theme of the arch's ornamentation. It is on the page following this section of the book that the description of the architectural structure begins: “At the portal of the church that looks to the sunset, the magnificent and brilliant construction was raised to thirty varas in stature and sixteen in breadth, [and was] crowned in a diagonal point.”21 The “portal of the church that looks to the sunset” was that of the western arm of the cathedral's transept, a three-story stone frontispiece (Figure 5). The ephemeral structure that temporarily masked it for the viceroy's entry also consisted of three stories, and the text treats each story separately:

The first story was composed in the Corinthian order, grounded with ten pedestals that drew attention to the skill of art with their intercolumniation. The columns were a graceful imitation of jasper, and the socle, cornice, corona, and astragal [were] a beautiful emulation of bronze, continued in the plinth, base, and capital. The architrave, triglyphs, and astragal followed the same imitation of bronze.

The second story was arrayed in the Composite order, with ten jaspered columns covered to one-third their height with laurel and a variety of leaves of bronze [and] with their bases on a predella of jasper. The astragals, moldings, capitals, triglyphs, frieze, cornice, and flying cornice [were] of jasper.

The third story was in the Doric order, in which six Persian herm pilasters were seen, their bodies of bronze and legs of jasper, crowned with Composite and Corinthian capitals. The soffit and architrave [were] of bronze, and the frieze of jasper.

[At the top there were] two triangular pediments, with the coat of arms of his Excellency in the middle, [and] on its sides, the interbays with two buttresses of bronze and jasper. The architrave, frieze, and cornices are of the same, with their pediments and curving molding on top.22

Figure 4

Coat of arms of the Counts of Moctezuma, as reproduced in Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre, 1696 (Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] [Mexico City: Juan Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696], fol. 1r; Medina Microfilm Collection, John Hay Library, Brown University).

Figure 4

Coat of arms of the Counts of Moctezuma, as reproduced in Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre, 1696 (Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] [Mexico City: Juan Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696], fol. 1r; Medina Microfilm Collection, John Hay Library, Brown University).

Figure 5

Cristóbal de Medina Vargas et al., frontispiece, west transept portal, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, completed 1689 (photo: istock.com/atosan).

Figure 5

Cristóbal de Medina Vargas et al., frontispiece, west transept portal, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, completed 1689 (photo: istock.com/atosan).

This description appears as a discrete section of the book, opening on a new page with a historiated initial and ending just before the transcription of the dedicatory text on the plaque that hung from the top of the arch. The section is methodical, beginning with the measurements of the structure as a whole before moving to its individual stories and their component parts, starting at ground level. The language is visual and precise, referring to individual colors, textures, and shapes. And it is animated, characterizing the arch as “a magnificent and brilliant construction” and “an exquisite wonder of architecture.” The text is an ekphrasis in the modern sense of the word in that it offers a description of a work of art, but it also epitomizes the term's classical sense as speech that brings something vividly before the eyes, making the absent present through its appeal to the imagination.23 Indeed, the description is so thorough that it facilitates a hypothetical reconstruction of the arch (Figures 6 and 7).

Figure 6

Cathedral chapter's triumphal arch, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, as described in Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre, 1696 (Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] [Mexico City: Juan Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696]; drawing by Giovanni Giaconi).

Figure 6

Cathedral chapter's triumphal arch, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, as described in Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre, 1696 (Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] [Mexico City: Juan Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696]; drawing by Giovanni Giaconi).

Figure 7

Column placement on the cathedral chapter's triumphal arch, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, as described in Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre, 1696 (Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] [Mexico City: Juan Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696]; diagram by author).

Figure 7

Column placement on the cathedral chapter's triumphal arch, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, as described in Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre, 1696 (Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre de blasones heroicos, girado del sol político […] [Mexico City: Juan Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696]; diagram by author).

In its scale and design, the arch for the Count of Moctezuma resembled multistory stone frontispieces like the one it masked as well as the wooden retablos adorning church interiors in seventeenth-century Mexico City. Built by teams of specialists including woodcarvers, joiners, gilders, and painters, those structures typically consisted of two or three stories, each incorporating distinct types of columns, capitals, and entablatures. A fitting example is the one adorning the Metropolitan Cathedral's chapel dedicated to Saint Peter (Figure 8). Commissioned by the cathedral chapter and its dean from the master gilder Alonso de Jerez in 1672, its two main stories featured richly patterned gilded columns flanking paintings of episodes from the life of the saint and an attic story with herm pilasters rising on each side of a rectangular window and two more paintings with Petrine subjects.24 The guild ordinances in Mexico City prohibited Jerez from undertaking projects involving skills in which he had not been examined and accredited, and so legally he would have been required to collaborate with woodcarvers and painters to complete the project in the ten months specified in the contract.25 This kind of collaboration is well documented in contracts such as that of 1678 through which Jerez agreed to work with the master joiner and woodcarver Tomás Juárez and the master painter Juan Correa to create a retablo for the Jesuit church of San Pedro y San Pablo in Mexico City.26

Figure 8

Alonso de Jerez et al., retablo, Chapel of Saint Peter, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, 1672–73 (photo by José Ignacio Lanzagorta García).

Figure 8

Alonso de Jerez et al., retablo, Chapel of Saint Peter, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, 1672–73 (photo by José Ignacio Lanzagorta García).

Contracts show that similar teams of specialists collaborated in the construction of triumphal arches, which like retablos were built of wood, but which typically were painted with finishes simulating stone and metal. One such contract was signed in August 1660 by the master carpenters Antonio de Moya and Antonio Bautista Solano, who entered into an agreement with the master painter Nicolás Bautista y Ceballos for the construction of an arch for the ceremonial entry of the Viceroy Count of Baños into Mexico City.27 In Puebla, about 130 kilometers (80.75 miles) southeast of Mexico City, the cathedral chapter of that city issued a contract to the master painter Pedro de Benavides and the master joiner Diego de los Santos to construct a triumphal arch for the entrance of the same viceroy on 1 August 1660.28 Also in Puebla, the master painter Rodrigo de la Piedra, the master architect and gilder Antonio Pérez, and the master joiner and carpenter Juan de Moya were contracted to make the arch for the Viceroy Marquis of Mancera in August 1664.29

Master carpenters, joiners, and gilders in seventeenth-century Mexico City were conversant in the architectural language used to describe the arch for the Count of Moctezuma in Zodíaco ilustre. The ordinances for gilders, for example, stipulated that a master like Jerez had to demonstrate an ability to work with a variety of moldings and ornaments, and those for woodcarvers specified that they must master a range of architectural forms, including the columns and capitals of the classical orders.30 The strongest evidence of this competence, however, is found not on paper but in wood and gilt: the altarpieces these specialists designed and constructed with a wide array of moldings and ornaments.

Ramírez de Vargas, however, was a poet, and so it was not through training in woodcarving or gilding that he would have become fluent in architectural terminology. Born in Mexico City and baptized at the cathedral parish in 1637, he was a creole—an American-born descendant of Spaniards who had settled in New Spain. Documents indicate that he served as an alcalde (magistrate) in the town of Mixquiaguala, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) due north of Mexico City; the occasional use of the term capitán (captain) in reference to him suggests he held a position of military leadership. In 1661 he married Jerónima Dallo Anfosso, and one year later he published a description of the festivities that took place in Mexico City to mark the birth of Prince Charles, the son of King Philip IV and heir to the throne. Ramírez de Vargas was the author of several other texts printed in festival books accompanying the inauguration of churches, and he wrote hymns performed at the cathedral for services honoring Saint Peter and the Virgin Mary in the 1680s. He participated in the poetry competitions sponsored by the university and other institutions in Mexico City, and among his fellow competitors were Sigüenza y Góngora and Juana Inés de la Cruz, to whom he was distantly related.31

Architectural Poetics in Viceregal Mexico City

With its precise description of the cathedral chapter's arch for the Count of Moctezuma, Zodíaco ilustre partakes of a long tradition of literary engagement with architecture in colonial Mexico City. Examples of the phenomenon appear in a wide array of genres, including poetry, sermons, and texts composed for the dedications of churches and funeral rites.32 Among the earliest of these works is a Latin dialogue composed by Francisco Cervantes de Salazar (d. 1575), a Spaniard from Toledo who served as rector and professor of rhetoric at the university in its early years. In 1554, the Mexico City printer Juan Pablos published a collection of seven Latin dialogues Cervantes de Salazar wrote as instructional materials for students of rhetoric. In the one titled “Civitas Mexicus interior” (The interior of Mexico City), two knowledgeable citizens lead a visitor on a tour of their town, and aspects of architectural theory and its terminology animate their exchanges. At one point, the interlocutors refer to a passage from Vitruvius's De architectura, a work documented in sixteenth-century book shipments to New Spain, inventories of booksellers in Mexico City, institutional libraries there such as that of the Franciscan Colegio de Santa Cruz, and the personal libraries of high-ranking administrators of construction projects at the cathedral.33 Cervantes de Salazar's reference to Vitruvius in a text designed for instruction in Latin rhetoric indicates that architectural literacy was part of a humanistic education imparted at the university, an institution he compares to the esteemed University of Salamanca in another of his dialogues.34 The title page that prefaces the dialogues in the publication of 1554, too, visually associates architecture with language: it takes the form of a window flanked by columns with ornamented capitals and incorporates text implying that, like the pages of a book, it too can be read (Figure 9).35

Figure 9

Title page from Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, Commentaria in Ludovici Vives exercitationes lingua Latinae (Mexico City: Joannem Paulum Brisensem, 1554; Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas, Austin).

Figure 9

Title page from Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, Commentaria in Ludovici Vives exercitationes lingua Latinae (Mexico City: Joannem Paulum Brisensem, 1554; Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas, Austin).

There is no doubt that Ramírez de Vargas would have become acquainted with architectural theory and terminology in the course of his education and through his familiarity with the work of other poets in seventeenth-century Mexico City. His facility with this body of knowledge is evident in a number of the texts he composed, among them a festival book published on the occasion of the dedication of the church at the Convent of San Bernardo in 1690, in which he compares the church's local architect, Juan de Cepeda, to an esteemed triumvirate: Vitruvius, Jean Bullant, and Domenico Fontana.36 In describing the building, he praises the use of the Doric order on its frontispiece, observing that in comparison to the other orders, the Doric is “more delightful to the eye and more valiant in style” (más deleitoso a la vista y más valiente en el garbo).37 The retablo on the high altar, he writes, consists of three stories, the first composed in the Corinthian order, its eight columns evenly divided on either side of the tabernacle. The eight columns in the Composite order on the second story flank a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which he describes in verse.38

Parts of Ramírez de Vargas's text on San Bernardo bear a resemblance in both form and content to the ekphrasis on the triumphal arch in Zodíaco ilustre. In his treatment of the façade, for example, he lists a sequence of architectural forms—“columns, bases, architraves, cornices, friezes, buttresses, and revetment”—noting that they were carved in stone that contrasted in color with the planar areas made of the darker, volcanic tezontle.39 Similarly, he describes the first story of the church's retablo mayor as consisting of eight columns and notes in particular its “bases, toruses, capitals, fillets with ovolos, triglyphs, rosettes, friezes, cornices, and architraves.”40 These passages differ from their counterparts in Zodíaco ilustre, however, in their integration into longer narratives that move through the space of the church systematically and address not only architectural forms but also sculpted and painted figural imagery. Like the ekphrasis on the triumphal arch, they demonstrate a command of architectural terminology presented in a distinctive way that points to the foundational texts with which Ramírez de Vargas and his contemporaries were familiar. Indeed, with its orderly recitation of ornamental molding types, the isolated ekphrasis in Zodíaco ilustre is the literary rendition of a diagram of the sort that illustrated architectural treatises.

One such diagram from Book 3 of the 1582 illustrated edition of Vitruvius's De architectura published in Alcalá de Henares, for example, depicts an entablature and pediment marked with letters linking their constituent elements to an accompanying list of architectural terms (Figure 10).41 The terms are presented so as to be read in order like any other page of text from top to bottom, beginning with the names of the elements labeled K and I before shifting to an alphabetical order beginning with the letter A. In Book 4 of the 1552 Toledo edition of Sebastiano Serlio's treatise—a version Ramírez de Vargas might have known—a column base in the Corinthian order is rendered as ten layered forms, including the plinth, torus and scotia moldings, fillets, and astragals (Figure 11).42 The diagram identifies these forms with their names written into the diagram itself and calls upon the reader to recite them in order in a manner akin to the ekphrastic text in Zodíaco ilustre.

Figure 10

Folio 45r from Vitruvius, De architectura (Alcalá de Henares: Juan Gracián, 1582; Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles).

Figure 10

Folio 45r from Vitruvius, De architectura (Alcalá de Henares: Juan Gracián, 1582; Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles).

Figure 11

Folio 49v from Sebastiano Serlio, Tercero y quarto libro de architectura (Toledo: Juan de Ayala, 1552; BH FLL 12776, Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid).

Figure 11

Folio 49v from Sebastiano Serlio, Tercero y quarto libro de architectura (Toledo: Juan de Ayala, 1552; BH FLL 12776, Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid).

The diagrammatic ekphrasis on the arch for the Count of Moctezuma begins at the ground level, moving through the forms of the first story from the pedestal to the column and entablature. The first sequence of terms—those of the ten pedestals—includes an atypical use of “cornice” (corniza) and “corona,” terms ordinarily used by Vitruvius and Serlio to identify parts of the entablature. The description of the series of moldings on the pedestal in Zodíaco ilustre—socle, cornice, corona, astragal—however, aligns closely with passages in Serlio's Book 3. Titled De las antigüedades, it surveys a selection of ancient monuments, among them a triumphal arch in Pula, on the Adriatic coast in what is today Croatia, and another in Verona. In his description of those arches, Serlio uses the terms “cornice” and “corona” to identify parts of the pedestal. In his treatment of the arch in Verona, which is keyed to an accompanying diagram (Figure 12), he writes:

The socle, which is marked with “G,” is one foot and three inches, and the body of the pedestal marked with “F” is four feet and three and a half inches, and the cornice above it is ten and a half inches in height, and the height of the base of the column is one foot, the plinth of which becomes the corona lysis or half-attic: this seems very good to me, because I have seen some Greek pedestals and they have this same form.43

Figure 12

Folio 69r from Sebastiano Serlio, Tercero y quarto libro de architectura (Toledo: Juan de Ayala, 1552; BH FLL 12776, Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid).

Figure 12

Folio 69r from Sebastiano Serlio, Tercero y quarto libro de architectura (Toledo: Juan de Ayala, 1552; BH FLL 12776, Biblioteca Histórica de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid).

His description of the height of the pedestals on the attic story of the arch in Pula, too, refers to both a cornice and this particular type of corona, the corona lysis:

The height of the base of the pedestal, with the socle below it, is one foot and two inches. And the base alone is ten inches. The height of the pedestal itself is two feet and one inch. And its cornice is six inches. And the cavetto or attic which is above this cornice, which Vitruvius calls corona lysis, seems to me to be five inches.44

Serlio uses the terms “cornice” and “corona” frequently to name moldings that appear in the entablatures of ancient monuments, but it is only in these passages on triumphal arches that they appear in sequence as parts of a pedestal. In particular, the form he calls the corona lysis is presented as a term coined by Vitruvius to describe a convex molding mediating the space between the top of the pedestal and the column base.45

The links between the terminology used in the description of the cathedral arch in Zodíaco ilustre and Serlio's writings on the arches from Pula and Verona may be evidence of Ramírez de Vargas's own knowledge or, alternatively, that of a Mexico City carpenter or joiner who designed and built the cathedral arch using ancient triumphal arches from the treatise as models, subsequently providing the names of its parts for inclusion in the festival book. In any case, the correlation between Serlio's text and the ekphrasis on the arch in Zodíaco ilustre can be added to the already considerable evidence of the reception of the Bolognese architect and theorist in New Spain and suggests a conceptualization of the arches used for viceregal entries as part of a sequence of structures extending into antiquity.46

The title page of Zodíaco ilustre presents Ramírez de Vargas as the work's sole author, and thus it is tempting to read the description of the arch as the poet's foray into a bookish, diagrammatic mode of architectural ekphrasis in a publication whose pages are rife with the showy use of other modes of classical rhetoric and a wide range of poetic forms. This, however, seems not to be the case. A survey of the descriptions of other triumphal arches commissioned by the cathedral chapter for viceregal entries in the seventeenth century reveals that Ramírez de Vargas would not have had to rely entirely—or perhaps at all—on his own knowledge in describing the “exquisite wonder of architecture” erected at the Metropolitan Cathedral in 1696.

Originality and Uniformity

By the mid-seventeenth century, the structure and contents of publications accompanying viceregal entries had become relatively uniform. A title page, with text centered and set in roman or italic type in a variety of sizes and letter spacings, preceded a short introductory text composed by the cathedral chapter and addressed to the viceroy. The author's presentation of the arch's theme followed. In Zodíaco ilustre, that section is titled “Argumento y paridad de la historia” (Argument and parity of the story), thus emphasizing the poet's likening of Hercules and his feats with the biography and character of the incoming viceroy. The diagrammatic ekphrasis on the arch came next, eventually guiding the reader to a transcription of the text, composed for the occasion, inscribed on the dedicatory plaque that was mounted on the structure. Next came an image-by-image presentation of the paintings and inscriptions that adorned the arch, and finally a section explaining the iconographic program in rhyming verse to be read aloud as part of the festivities.47

The six books composed and printed in the period 1670–96 to accompany the cathedral arches, however, are interrelated in another way: their architectural ekphrases are nearly identical.48 They all begin by recording the measurements of the arch before moving to the first story, noting the use of the Corinthian order and praising the intercolumniation of its columns of feigned jasper. The diagrammatic passages focus on the elements painted to resemble bronze and present them in three ordered groups: socle, cornice, corona, and astragal; plinth, base, and capital; architrave, triglyphs, and astragals. The three arches erected in the period 1670–80 also included plaques on six of the pedestals supporting columns adorned to one-third their height with bronze mascarons (Table 1).

Table 1
Comparison of Descriptions of the First Story of the Triumphal Arch Sponsored by the Cathedral Chapter, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City
A. Peña y Peralta and
P. Fernández Osorio,
Pan místico […]
M. de Perea Quintanilla and D. de Ribera, Histórica imagen […]Juana Inés de la Cruz, Neptuno alegórico […]Unidentified author, Proporción alegórica […]A. Ramírez de Vargas, Simulacro histórico político […]A. Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre […]
167016731680168616881696
La Arquitectura del
primero de obra
Corinthia, se formava sobre
diez pedestales, que
se manifestavan por sus
resaltos, con sus
intercolumnios, cuya
porcion era de finissimo
japse, Soclo, Cornija,
Corona, y Collarin de
bronze, con seis tarjas de
lo mesmo; sobre estas se
sustentavan otras tantas
columnas de jaspe,
revestidas en el tercio de
mascarones de bronze,
sobre quienes asentavan
Plinto, Basa, y Capitel de
lo mesmo, coronandose
con el alquitrabe con
Triglifos, y Collarin de
bronze, Frissos, y
Dentellones de jaspe;
Cornija, Paflon, y bolada
de bronze. 
La Architectura del primero
cuerpo fue de obra
Corinthia, fundamentada
sobre diez Pedestales, que
se manifestaban por sus
resaltos con sus
intercolumnios; las
columnas remedaron a el
finissimo Jaspe, y el Zoclo,
Corniza, Corona, y
Collarin a el bronze, con
seis tarjas de los mesmo,
sobre que se asentaban
seis columnas de finigido
Jaspe, revestidas en el
tercio de Mascarones de
Bronze, con su Plinto,
Bassa y Capitel de los
mismo. El Alquitrabe,
Trigliphos, y Collarin tambien de fingido
bronze; Frisos, y
Dentellones de Jaspe,
Corniza, Paflon, y bolada de bronze. 
El primer cuerpo fue de
obra Corinthia,
fundamentada sobre diez
pedestales que se
manifestavan por sus
resaltos con sus
intercolumnios, las
columnas fingían ser de
finísimo jaspe, y el zoclo,
corona, cornisa, y collarin
de bronce, con seis tarjas
de lo mismo, sobre que se
assentavan seis columnas
de fingido jaspe, revestidas
en el tercio de máscaras de
bronce, con su plinto,
basa, y capitel, el
arquitrave, triglifos y
collarin de lo mismo:
frisos y dentellones de
jaspe; cornisa, paflón y
volada de bronce. 
El primer cuerpo
hermoseaba el orden
corinthio, sirviendo de
fundamento diez
pedestales, que al primor
del arte resaltaban con sus
intercolumnios; las
columnas eran ayroso
remedo del Jaspe, y el
zoclo, corniza, corona, y
collarin emulacion bella
del bronze, continuada en
su plinto, basa, y capitel;
siguiendo la misma
imitacion, alquitrabe,
trigliphos, y collarin. 
El primero cuerpo se
compuso de obra
Corinthia, fundada
sobre diez Pedestales,
que al esmero del
artificio resaltavan, con
sus Intercolumnios. Las
columnas eran imitacion
propria del Jaspe: Y el
Zoclo, Corniza, Corona,
y Collarin, no menos
ayroso remedo del
bronce, continuada en
Plinto Basa, y Capitel. El
Alquitrave, Triglyphos, y
Collarin observavan
emulamente la
semejanza. 
El primero cuerpo se
compuso de obra
corinthia, fundamentada
sobre diez pedestales,
que resaltaban al primor
del Arte con sus
intercolumnios: las
columnas eran ayroso
remedo del Jaspe, y el
zoclo cornisa, corona, y
collarin emulacion bella
del bronze, continuada
en su Plinto, Baza, y
Capitel. El Alquitrabe,
Trigliphos, y Collarin,
seguian la misma
imitacion del bronze. 
A. Peña y Peralta and
P. Fernández Osorio,
Pan místico […]
M. de Perea Quintanilla and D. de Ribera, Histórica imagen […]Juana Inés de la Cruz, Neptuno alegórico […]Unidentified author, Proporción alegórica […]A. Ramírez de Vargas, Simulacro histórico político […]A. Ramírez de Vargas, Zodíaco ilustre […]
167016731680168616881696
La Arquitectura del
primero de obra
Corinthia, se formava sobre
diez pedestales, que
se manifestavan por sus
resaltos, con sus
intercolumnios, cuya
porcion era de finissimo
japse, Soclo, Cornija,
Corona, y Collarin de
bronze, con seis tarjas de
lo mesmo; sobre estas se
sustentavan otras tantas
columnas de jaspe,
revestidas en el tercio de
mascarones de bronze,
sobre quienes asentavan
Plinto, Basa, y Capitel de
lo mesmo, coronandose
con el alquitrabe con
Triglifos, y Collarin de
bronze, Frissos, y
Dentellones de jaspe;
Cornija, Paflon, y bolada
de bronze. 
La Architectura del primero
cuerpo fue de obra
Corinthia, fundamentada
sobre diez Pedestales, que
se manifestaban por sus
resaltos con sus
intercolumnios; las
columnas remedaron a el
finissimo Jaspe, y el Zoclo,
Corniza, Corona, y
Collarin a el bronze, con
seis tarjas de los mesmo,
sobre que se asentaban
seis columnas de finigido
Jaspe, revestidas en el
tercio de Mascarones de
Bronze, con su Plinto,
Bassa y Capitel de los
mismo. El Alquitrabe,
Trigliphos, y Collarin tambien de fingido
bronze; Frisos, y
Dentellones de Jaspe,
Corniza, Paflon, y bolada de bronze. 
El primer cuerpo fue de
obra Corinthia,
fundamentada sobre diez
pedestales que se
manifestavan por sus
resaltos con sus
intercolumnios, las
columnas fingían ser de
finísimo jaspe, y el zoclo,
corona, cornisa, y collarin
de bronce, con seis tarjas
de lo mismo, sobre que se
assentavan seis columnas
de fingido jaspe, revestidas
en el tercio de máscaras de
bronce, con su plinto,
basa, y capitel, el
arquitrave, triglifos y
collarin de lo mismo:
frisos y dentellones de
jaspe; cornisa, paflón y
volada de bronce. 
El primer cuerpo
hermoseaba el orden
corinthio, sirviendo de
fundamento diez
pedestales, que al primor
del arte resaltaban con sus
intercolumnios; las
columnas eran ayroso
remedo del Jaspe, y el
zoclo, corniza, corona, y
collarin emulacion bella
del bronze, continuada en
su plinto, basa, y capitel;
siguiendo la misma
imitacion, alquitrabe,
trigliphos, y collarin. 
El primero cuerpo se
compuso de obra
Corinthia, fundada
sobre diez Pedestales,
que al esmero del
artificio resaltavan, con
sus Intercolumnios. Las
columnas eran imitacion
propria del Jaspe: Y el
Zoclo, Corniza, Corona,
y Collarin, no menos
ayroso remedo del
bronce, continuada en
Plinto Basa, y Capitel. El
Alquitrave, Triglyphos, y
Collarin observavan
emulamente la
semejanza. 
El primero cuerpo se
compuso de obra
corinthia, fundamentada
sobre diez pedestales,
que resaltaban al primor
del Arte con sus
intercolumnios: las
columnas eran ayroso
remedo del Jaspe, y el
zoclo cornisa, corona, y
collarin emulacion bella
del bronze, continuada
en su Plinto, Baza, y
Capitel. El Alquitrabe,
Trigliphos, y Collarin,
seguian la misma
imitacion del bronze. 

The treatments of the two upper stories of the arches in this group of books are also nearly indistinguishable. All of them note the use of the Composite order on the second story and its ten columns painted to resemble jasper and decorated to one-third their height with bronzed leaves. Other parts of the ensemble are listed in identical order: astragal, moldings, capitals, triglyphs, frieze, cornice, and flying cornice (Table 2). The descriptions of the third story are again the same, all of them using precisely the same phraseology to describe the six Persian herms, and all referring to the parts of the entablature in a fixed sequence: soffit, architrave, and frieze topped with two pediments (Table 3).

Table 2
Comparison of Descriptions of the Second Story of the Triumphal Arch Sponsored by the Cathedral Chapter, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City
A. Peña y Peralta and
P. Fernández Osorio,
Pan místico […]
M. de Perea Quintanilla and
D. de Ribera, Histórica imagen […]
Juana Inés de la Cruz,
Neptuno alegórico […]
Unidentified author,
Proporción alegórica […]
A. Ramírez de Vargas,
Simulacro histórico político […]
A. Ramírez de Vargas,
Zodíaco ilustre […]
167016731680168616881696
El segundo cuerpo dispuso
de orden Composito, con
otras diez columnas de
jaspe revestidas, en el
tercio de ojas, y laurel de
bronze, en otras tantas
Basas sobre la Sotabanca
de jaspe, con Collarin, y
molduras de bronze,
Capiteles de lo mesmo;
Triglifos, Frisso, Corniza,
y bolada de jaspe. 
El segundo cuerpo se
compuso de orden
Composito, con diez
columnas de Jaspe,
vestidas el tercio de
Laurel, y variedad de hojas
de bronze, con sus Basas
sobre la sotobanca de
Jaspe, Collarin, Molduras,
Capiteles, Trigliphos,
Friso, Corniza, y bolada
de Jaspe. 
El segundo cuerpo fue de
orden composito, con diez
columnas de jaspe,
revestidas en el tercio de
laurel y variedades de
joyas de bronce, con sus
basas sobre la sotabanca de
jaspe: collarin, molduras,
capiteles, triglifos, friso,
cornisa, y volada de jaspe. 
El segundo cuerpo fue de
obra composita, con diez
columnas jaspeadas, y
revestidas con el tercio de
laurel, y variedad de ojas
de bronze con sus basas
sobre la sotabanca de
Jaspe: collarin, molduras,
capiteles, trigliphos, friso,
cornisa, y volada de Jaspe. 
El segundo cuerpo fue de
obra composita, con diez
jaspeadas Columnas, y
con el tercio de laurel
revestidas, y variedad de
ojas bronceadas con sus
Bassas sobre el
sotabanco de jaspe
Collarin, Molduras,
Capiteles, Triglyphos,
Friso, Corniza y buelo
jaspeado. 
El segundo cuerpo se
ordenó de obra
composita, con diez
columnas jazpeadas, y
revestidas con el tercio
de laurel, y varieded de
ojas de bronze, con sus
Bassas sobre la sotabanca
de jazpe, Collarin,
Molduras, Capiteles,
Trigliphos, Friso,
Corniza, y bolada de
jazpe. 
A. Peña y Peralta and
P. Fernández Osorio,
Pan místico […]
M. de Perea Quintanilla and
D. de Ribera, Histórica imagen […]
Juana Inés de la Cruz,
Neptuno alegórico […]
Unidentified author,
Proporción alegórica […]
A. Ramírez de Vargas,
Simulacro histórico político […]
A. Ramírez de Vargas,
Zodíaco ilustre […]
167016731680168616881696
El segundo cuerpo dispuso
de orden Composito, con
otras diez columnas de
jaspe revestidas, en el
tercio de ojas, y laurel de
bronze, en otras tantas
Basas sobre la Sotabanca
de jaspe, con Collarin, y
molduras de bronze,
Capiteles de lo mesmo;
Triglifos, Frisso, Corniza,
y bolada de jaspe. 
El segundo cuerpo se
compuso de orden
Composito, con diez
columnas de Jaspe,
vestidas el tercio de
Laurel, y variedad de hojas
de bronze, con sus Basas
sobre la sotobanca de
Jaspe, Collarin, Molduras,
Capiteles, Trigliphos,
Friso, Corniza, y bolada
de Jaspe. 
El segundo cuerpo fue de
orden composito, con diez
columnas de jaspe,
revestidas en el tercio de
laurel y variedades de
joyas de bronce, con sus
basas sobre la sotabanca de
jaspe: collarin, molduras,
capiteles, triglifos, friso,
cornisa, y volada de jaspe. 
El segundo cuerpo fue de
obra composita, con diez
columnas jaspeadas, y
revestidas con el tercio de
laurel, y variedad de ojas
de bronze con sus basas
sobre la sotabanca de
Jaspe: collarin, molduras,
capiteles, trigliphos, friso,
cornisa, y volada de Jaspe. 
El segundo cuerpo fue de
obra composita, con diez
jaspeadas Columnas, y
con el tercio de laurel
revestidas, y variedad de
ojas bronceadas con sus
Bassas sobre el
sotabanco de jaspe
Collarin, Molduras,
Capiteles, Triglyphos,
Friso, Corniza y buelo
jaspeado. 
El segundo cuerpo se
ordenó de obra
composita, con diez
columnas jazpeadas, y
revestidas con el tercio
de laurel, y varieded de
ojas de bronze, con sus
Bassas sobre la sotabanca
de jazpe, Collarin,
Molduras, Capiteles,
Trigliphos, Friso,
Corniza, y bolada de
jazpe. 
Table 3
Comparison of Descriptions of the Third Story of the Triumphal Arch Sponsored by the Cathedral Chapter, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City
A. Peña y Peralta and
P. Fernández Osorio,
Pan místico […]
M. de Perea Quintanilla and
D. de Ribera, Histórica imagen […]
Juana Inés de la Cruz,
Neptuno alegórico […]
Unidentified author,
Proporción alegórica […]
A. Ramírez de Vargas,
Simulacro histórico político […]
A. Ramírez de Vargas,
Zodíaco ilustre […]
167016731680168616881696
El tercero cuerpo, se
componia de obra Dorica,
en que se v[e]ian seis
Bichas Persicas, cuerpo de
bronze, y pierna de jaspe;
coronado de capitel
Composito, y Corinthio,
Paflon, y Alquitrave de
bronze, Frisso de jaspe,
dos frontis en linea
diagonal, y en medio las
Armas de su Señoria
Ilustrissima. 
El tercero cuerpo se
compuso de obra Dorica,
en que se veian seis Bichas
Persicas, cuerpo de bronze,
y pierna de Jaspe,
coronado de Capitel
Composito, y Corinthio,
Paflon, y Aquitrabe de
bronze, y Friso de Jaspe,
dos frontis de linea
Diagonal, y en medio el
Escudo de Armas de su
Exa. 
El tercero cuerpo se
compuso de obra Dorica
en que se veian seis bichas
Persicas, cuerpo de bronce
y pierna de jaspe;
coronado de capitel
composito y corinthio;
paflón y arquitrave de
bronce, y friso de jaspe;
dos frontis en linea
diagonal: y en medio, el
escudo de las Armas de su
Excelencia. 
Al tercero le cupo el orden
Dorico, en que se veian
seis bichas persicas,
cuerpo de bronze, y pierna
de Jaspe coronado de
capitel, composito, y
corinthio: paflon, y
alquitrabe de bronce, y
friso de Jaspe. Dos frontis
en linea diagonal en cuyo
centro, o medio, se veia
descollar el escudo de las
Armas de su Exa. 
El tercero fue de orden
Dorico donde se
miravan seis Bichas
Persicas, cuerpo de
Bronce, y piernas de
jaspe, coronado el
Capitel composito, y
Corinthio. Paflon, y
Alquitrabe de bronce, y
friso de jaspe. Dos
frontis en linea
Diagonal, en cuyo
medio se manifestava el
escudo de Armas de su
Excelencia. 
El tercero cuerpo fue de
orden Dorico, en que se
veían seis Bichas
persicas, cuerpo de
bronze, y piernas de
jazpe, coronado el
Capitel composito, y
Corinthio: Paflon, y
Alquitrabe de bronze, y
Friso de jazpe. Dos
Frontis en linea
Diagonal descollando en
medio el escudo de su
Ex. 
A. Peña y Peralta and
P. Fernández Osorio,
Pan místico […]
M. de Perea Quintanilla and
D. de Ribera, Histórica imagen […]
Juana Inés de la Cruz,
Neptuno alegórico […]
Unidentified author,
Proporción alegórica […]
A. Ramírez de Vargas,
Simulacro histórico político […]
A. Ramírez de Vargas,
Zodíaco ilustre […]
167016731680168616881696
El tercero cuerpo, se
componia de obra Dorica,
en que se v[e]ian seis
Bichas Persicas, cuerpo de
bronze, y pierna de jaspe;
coronado de capitel
Composito, y Corinthio,
Paflon, y Alquitrave de
bronze, Frisso de jaspe,
dos frontis en linea
diagonal, y en medio las
Armas de su Señoria
Ilustrissima. 
El tercero cuerpo se
compuso de obra Dorica,
en que se veian seis Bichas
Persicas, cuerpo de bronze,
y pierna de Jaspe,
coronado de Capitel
Composito, y Corinthio,
Paflon, y Aquitrabe de
bronze, y Friso de Jaspe,
dos frontis de linea
Diagonal, y en medio el
Escudo de Armas de su
Exa. 
El tercero cuerpo se
compuso de obra Dorica
en que se veian seis bichas
Persicas, cuerpo de bronce
y pierna de jaspe;
coronado de capitel
composito y corinthio;
paflón y arquitrave de
bronce, y friso de jaspe;
dos frontis en linea
diagonal: y en medio, el
escudo de las Armas de su
Excelencia. 
Al tercero le cupo el orden
Dorico, en que se veian
seis bichas persicas,
cuerpo de bronze, y pierna
de Jaspe coronado de
capitel, composito, y
corinthio: paflon, y
alquitrabe de bronce, y
friso de Jaspe. Dos frontis
en linea diagonal en cuyo
centro, o medio, se veia
descollar el escudo de las
Armas de su Exa. 
El tercero fue de orden
Dorico donde se
miravan seis Bichas
Persicas, cuerpo de
Bronce, y piernas de
jaspe, coronado el
Capitel composito, y
Corinthio. Paflon, y
Alquitrabe de bronce, y
friso de jaspe. Dos
frontis en linea
Diagonal, en cuyo
medio se manifestava el
escudo de Armas de su
Excelencia. 
El tercero cuerpo fue de
orden Dorico, en que se
veían seis Bichas
persicas, cuerpo de
bronze, y piernas de
jazpe, coronado el
Capitel composito, y
Corinthio: Paflon, y
Alquitrabe de bronze, y
Friso de jazpe. Dos
Frontis en linea
Diagonal descollando en
medio el escudo de su
Ex. 

The uniform structure and contents of these ekphrases might reasonably be seen as evidence that the cathedral chapter's arches for viceregal entries in the final decades of the century were, in fact, identical, having been reconstructed for each of the festivals in this period using the same stock of pedestals, columns, moldings, and ornaments in a way that was faithful to an original design. Reusing architectural elements is rational economic behavior, particularly in light of concerns about the cost of viceregal entries: the exorbitant expenditures for those festivals were criticized repeatedly by the crown, and a directive in the Laws of the Indies stipulated that the cost of the viceregal entry in New Spain could not exceed 8,000 pesos.49

A notarial document of 1686 sheds light on the reuse of ephemeral arches in Mexico City. In it, the painter José Rodríguez Carnero states that he and Antonio de Alvarado were the owners of a triumphal arch—the one “used for the entries and receptions of the Viceroys that is placed on the corner of Santo Domingo in the said city [Mexico City].”50 The document records Rodríguez's sale of his half share of the arch to Alvarado when he moved from Mexico City to Puebla. The arch in question was the one commissioned by the municipal council and adorned with an iconographic program designed by Sigüenza y Góngora for the entry of the Viceroy Marquis of la Laguna in 1680, and the record of sale indicates that its owners believed it would continue to be used in the entries of future viceroys.

The uniformity of the ekphrases in the festival books suggests that the cathedral chapter's arch was similarly preserved and periodically reconstructed with only slight modifications in the second half of the seventeenth century. The three arches erected for viceregal entries in the period 1650–60 had identical measurements—27 varas in height and 16 in width—and the structures are all described as consisting of three bays and three stories, each of the first two with ten columns of the Corinthian order, and the third with eight Persian herms. Crowning the central bay was a splayed half-cupola framing a plaque with the cathedral's coat of arms (Table 4). In 1670, the size of the structure increased by 1 vara in height, and its first story, like those of its predecessors, was composed of ten Corinthian order columns. The upper stories, however, introduced a new design. The ten Composite order columns on the second story were topped by a third story with Doric columns, six Persian herms, and two pediments. Two of the herms and the half-cupola from the earlier design seem to have been removed, and the coat of arms of the viceroy, who was also an archbishop, replaced that of the church, centered at the top. The arch erected for the viceregal entry that occurred three years later was the first of five to reach a height of 30 varas. All other components of the design, however, remained the same as those from 1670. It was this last design that Ramírez de Vargas confronted in formulating the iconographic and poetic program for the Count of Moctezuma's entry in 1696.

Table 4
Comparison of Measurements, Architectural Forms, and Coats of Arms on the Triumphal Arches Sponsored by the Cathedral Chapter, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City
1625164016421650165316601664167016731680168616881696
Size in varas 25 × 14.5 not given 27 × 16 27 × 16 27 × 16 28 × 16 30 × 16 30 × 16 30 × 16 30 × 16 30 × 16 
1st story,
no. of
columns
and order 
4 Ionic 8 Corinthian  10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian  10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 
2nd story,
no. of
columns and
order 
4 Corinthian 8 Corinthian
or
Composite 
 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian  10 Composite 10 Composite 10 Composite 10 Composite 10 Composite 10 Composite 
3rd story,
no. of
columns,
order, and
other 
 8 Corinthian
or
Composite 
 8 herm
pilasters 
8 herm
pilasters
Composite
splayed
half-cupola 
8 herm
pilasters
splayed
half-cupola 
 6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
4th story,
no. of
columns,
order, and
other 
 4 modillions 1 pediment            
Coat of arms
at top 
church church   church king and
viceroy 
 archbishop,
who was
also the
viceroy 
viceroy viceroy viceroy viceroy viceroy 
1625164016421650165316601664167016731680168616881696
Size in varas 25 × 14.5 not given 27 × 16 27 × 16 27 × 16 28 × 16 30 × 16 30 × 16 30 × 16 30 × 16 30 × 16 
1st story,
no. of
columns
and order 
4 Ionic 8 Corinthian  10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian  10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 
2nd story,
no. of
columns and
order 
4 Corinthian 8 Corinthian
or
Composite 
 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian 10 Corinthian  10 Composite 10 Composite 10 Composite 10 Composite 10 Composite 10 Composite 
3rd story,
no. of
columns,
order, and
other 
 8 Corinthian
or
Composite 
 8 herm
pilasters 
8 herm
pilasters
Composite
splayed
half-cupola 
8 herm
pilasters
splayed
half-cupola 
 6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
6 herm
pilasters
Doric
2
pediments 
4th story,
no. of
columns,
order, and
other 
 4 modillions 1 pediment            
Coat of arms
at top 
church church   church king and
viceroy 
 archbishop,
who was
also the
viceroy 
viceroy viceroy viceroy viceroy viceroy 

This survey of the size and composition of the cathedral chapter's arch over a period of forty-six years reveals many similarities in design and a gradual increase in height of 3 varas (2.5 meters, or 8.25 feet). This change occurred in tandem with the construction of the cathedral and the increasing height of its walls. As a step toward replacing the smaller church on the Plaza Mayor that had been in use since the first years of Spanish colonial rule, the foundations of the new structure had been set on an adjacent site in 1573.51 By 1615, its perimeter walls had been built to more than half their projected height, and in 1623, the two vaults of the sacristy were closed. Three years later, during the tenure of the Viceroy Marquis of Cerralvo, the old cathedral was demolished, and for the next fifteen years, Masses were offered and other rites were performed in the sacristy of the new cathedral, the only part of the structure where the vaulted ceiling had been completed.52 By 1641, two vaults above the high altar were finished, together with those of two bays in the side aisles, and a temporary wooden roof was installed over a large part of the nave, creating a more spacious setting for Masses and ending the use of the sacristy for that purpose. The ceremonial entry of the Viceroy Marquis of Villena in 1640 occurred in the midst of these changes, but it remains unclear where the cathedral arch erected to welcome him was placed.53 The introductory text in the accompanying festival book reflects the state of the building project at that time, appealing to the viceroy to “make completely perfect the grandiose structure of the main church, whose work [has been] impeded for many years.”54 Giving visual form to that plea was a large painting hung directly over the arch's threshold depicting the viceroy as an architect, holding a plumb line and a drawing of a church in his left hand and a sword in his right, with a half-built church in the landscape behind him.55

By 1645, the vaults in the three bays preceding the high altar were completed and a Mass was celebrated to consecrate the structure even as the transept and remainder of the nave were still under construction. The Viceroy Count of Alva de Aliste made his ceremonial entry into the building in 1650 through the first of the three arches measuring 27 by 16 varas and erected in front of the still-incomplete portal to the western arm of the transept, where the arches would be set up through the end of the century. The clergyman and diarist Gregorio Martín de Guijo (ca. 1606–76) made note of the festivities of 1650, adding a detail that appears nowhere else in his record of viceregal entries: the arch's cost of 1,005 pesos.56 This anomaly is suggestive. It was during this time that the walls of the transept were being raised to their then-projected height of 26⅔ varas.57 In light of this, the height of the triumphal arch commissioned by the cathedral chapter in 1650—27 varas—makes sense. The impending completion of the transept walls led the institution to commission a triumphal arch whose size was fitting for the space where it would be installed for the entry of 1650 and those that followed.

In 1667, during the tenure of the Viceroy Marquis of Mancera, the interior of the church and all of its vaults were completed, and dedication festivities were celebrated. In a description of the building composed for the occasion, the cleric and professor of theology Isidro Sariñana noted that the adornment of the west transept portal—the one concealed by the triumphal arch—was still only partially complete. It consisted of

four engaged fluted columns with its niches in between, above whose capitals projected a fine cornice bearing another four smaller engaged columns which today are finished to more than half their height, and they have to adorn three windows, the two quadrilinear ones on the sides, and the splayed and arched one in the middle, above which there is another circular one.58

Sariñana's description matches the appearance of the first and second stories of the frontispiece as it appears today (see Figure 5). The first viceregal entry to follow the dedication ceremony—that of the Viceroy Archbishop Payo Enríquez in 1670—is also the first appearance of the uniform ekphrasis on the arch that would persist until the century's end. It may be that the momentous occasion of the cathedral's dedication inspired the construction of a new triumphal arch or the modification of the existing one. The carved-stone ornamentation of the portal to the western arm of the transept, however, would not be completed until 1689, by which time the height of the triumphal arch had increased to 30 varas. That measurement corresponds closely to the revised height of 30⅔ varas for the cathedral's nave walls proposed by Juan Gómez de Trasmonte several decades earlier.59

It is difficult to know with certainty how the height of the cathedral chapter's arch corresponded to that of the carved-stone frontispiece at any given moment in the cathedral's construction history. The substantial documentary record does not precisely address incremental changes in the height of the frontispiece, and the instability of the ground on which the cathedral stands caused parts of the building to sink, an effect noticed even in the early years of construction, and one that has affected its dimensions over time.60 The three-story frontispiece of the west transept portal today rises slightly above the walls of the transept and central nave, whose height is about 25 meters (82 feet, or about 30 varas), and the lobe above it rises an additional 4 meters (13 feet, or about 3.3 varas).61 Assuming these measurements are close to those of the height of the frontispiece as it stood at the end of the seventeenth century, the ephemeral arch for the Count of Moctezuma would have obscured the carved-stone portal entirely, leaving visible only the lobe that crowns it, originally adorned with a royal coat of arms. Floating atop the viceroy's coat of arms on the triumphal arch, that stone escutcheon reiterated the relationship between the king and his alter ego in New Spain in terms of permanence and ephemerality.62

Correlating the construction history of the Mexico City Cathedral with that of the triumphal arches erected at its west transept portal in the seventeenth century shows how changes in the permanent structure influenced the design of the ephemeral one. These data show that the cathedral chapter's arch for viceregal entries is not among those works of ephemeral architecture that were stylistically generative, introducing to the urban environment new architectural forms to be adopted for use in permanent structures.63 The scale of the cathedral arch in the second half of the seventeenth century responded to advances in the construction of the building itself, and the distinctive features of the arch as described in the accompanying festival books—jasper and bronze architectural forms, Corinthian and Composite orders, and Persian herms—do not appear on any of the church's stone portals. Moreover, the permanent stone frontispiece concealed by the arch for the Count of Moctezuma included an upper story with Solomonic columns, an architectural innovation of the second half of the seventeenth century in Mexico City appearing frequently on stone portals and retablos, but absent in the unyielding design of the cathedral chapter's triumphal arch (Figure 13).64

Figure 13

Cristóbal de Medina Vargas et al., upper story of frontispiece, west transept portal, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, completed 1689 (photo: iStock.com/Mark Zhu).

Figure 13

Cristóbal de Medina Vargas et al., upper story of frontispiece, west transept portal, Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, completed 1689 (photo: iStock.com/Mark Zhu).

The practice of reassembling the cathedral chapter's arch with scant variation in design over a period of decades may have been dictated by economics, tradition, or convenience, but it would not necessarily have precluded a poet's composition of a unique ekphrasis for each of the viceregal entries in this period. Ramírez de Vargas and his contemporaries were seasoned authors of architectural description; he himself had penned a lengthy one on the convent church of San Bernardo, noted above, and Diego de Ribera—who collaborated with Miguel de Perea Quintanilla on the cathedral arch for the entry of the Duke of Veragua (1673)—had composed several, including one for the second dedication of Mexico City Cathedral (1668) and others for the dedication of the convent churches of the Virgin of Valvanera (1671) and San Felipe de Jesús (1673).65

The sameness of the ekphrastic passages on the cathedral arches in the final decades of the seventeenth century seems especially odd within the literary genre of the festival book, where showy demonstrations of rhetorical prowess were the norm. The reader struggles to find any hint of originality in them: variations are infrequent and timid, consisting primarily of the occasional substitution of synonyms. The uniformity of the passages suggests that in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, there was understood to be no alternative to describing the triumphal arch as an amalgam of architectural elements named and listed in an inflexible sequence. Why was this the case?

Idea and Fábrica

The broader history of literary practice in late seventeenth-century Mexico City provides a context within which these uniform ekphrases fit comfortably. In 1673, Miguel de Perea Quintanilla and Diego de Ribera—authors of the text accompanying the cathedral arch erected that year for the entry of the Viceroy Duke of Veragua—authored a different kind of festival book, this one titled Simbólico glorioso asunto que a los cisnes mexicanos, insta al métrico certamen, excita a la palestra armónica […] (Symbolic, Glorious Theme That Summons Mexican Poets to the Metrical Poetry Competition, Rouses Them to the Harmonic Arena […]).66 In it, Perea, a prosecutor for both the Archdiocese of Mexico and the Audiencia (the royal high court), and Ribera, a priest and member of the elite Confraternity of Saint Peter at the Metropolitan Cathedral, published the results of a tournament of poetic competitions known as certámenes convened in concert with the dedication of the church of San Felipe de Jesús in 1673.67 The church was part of a larger convent of Franciscan Capuchin nuns and was named for a friar born in Mexico City and martyred in Nagasaki, Japan. He was beatified by Pope Urban VIII in 1627, and although his canonization did not occur until the nineteenth century, he was routinely regarded as a saint in seventeenth-century New Spain.68

Organized periodically to coincide with religious and civic festivals, certámenes challenged participants to compose poems constrained by strict regulations of form and content.69 In the first of four contests of the tournament documented by Perea and Ribera, competitors were charged with composing a Castilian sonnet (fourteen hendecasyllabic lines, composed as two quatrains and two tercets) associating the dedication of the convent church with the dedication in ancient Rome of a temple to the eternal flame guarded by the Vestal Virgins, as attested to in passages from Vicenzo Cartari's Imagines deorum (1581) and Pierio Valeriano's Hieroglyphica (1556). The other challenges in the tournament were similarly complex. One required the poets to compose four décimas (stanzas of ten octosyllabic verses) comparing the church's titular saint to Neptune; another called for a romance (a long series of octosyllabic verses with assonant rhyming in the even lines) linking Numa Pompilius, the legendary second king of Rome and—according to Ovid—patron of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, to the Viceroy Marquis of Mancera and King Carlos II as patrons of the church of San Felipe de Jesús.70

Ramírez de Vargas was awarded first place in the competition of 1673 for his romance on the theme of Numa Pompilius. In fact, he won prizes at nearly all of the certámenes convened in Mexico City during his lifetime. He would go on to win five prizes in a series of certámenes sponsored by the university in 1682–83 celebrating the Immaculate Conception, among them a first-place finish for a romance consisting of twelve couplets demonstrating assonance with the letters v and o and, as stipulated in the call for participation, linking the theme of the Immaculate Conception with a passage from Book 3 of Virgil's Aeneid, in which the Trojans encounter a storm as they travel by sea to Delos, the birthplace of Apollo.71

The other prizewinners in the tournaments of 1682–83 included Juana Inés de la Cruz, writing under the pseudonyms Juan Sáenz de Cauri and Felipe Salayes Gutiérrez, and Miguel de Perea Quintanilla.72 But more remarkable than the participation of these established New Spanish poets is that of a host of others—all of them men—for whom poetry was more of a hobby than a vocation. Many were members of the clergy; others were professors and graduates of the university, captains of militias, doctors, and merchants. Sigüenza y Góngora, who published the results of the certámenes of 1682–83, claimed he had received more than five hundred entries for consideration by the judges. Indeed, by the end of the seventeenth century, there was a sizable but homogeneous sector of society in Mexico City that conceived of poetry as a part of an elite habitus, a pursuit defined by competition within strictly defined formal limitations like those of the sonnet, the décima, the romance, and the centón.

The limitations faced by Ramírez de Vargas, Juana Inés de la Cruz, the team of Perea and Ribera, and the other poets who formulated the themes and iconographic programs for arches in the final decades of the seventeenth century, however, went beyond literary form and content: they also faced the spatial constraint of a triumphal arch measuring 30 by 16 varas and consisting of three stories and three bays. The commissioned poet was charged with using that structure to accommodate his or her Idea, a term used in the festival books to refer to the mythological theme and the arguments made in support of its association with the incoming viceroy. The title to Zodíaco ilustre, for example, indicates that the book's pages reveal how the “image of princes” hidden in the labors of Hercules will be “deciphered in poetic Ideas and expressed in the colors of painting.”73 The members of the cathedral chapter, too, used the term when they paid Juana Inés de la Cruz for her work on the arch for the Viceroy Marquis of la Laguna, agreeing that she would receive 200 pesos for the Idea of the triumphal arch (“la Idea del arco triunfal”).74

The predetermined design of the late seventeenth-century cathedral arch required the poet to express the Idea through the use of words and visual images positioned within fourteen available spaces on the arch, eight of them in the intercolumnar spaces of the three bays and six smaller ones running across its base at ground level. Another constriction was the standard way in which the arch was to be “read,” beginning with the image in the space directly above the portal and continuing with those on the lateral bays, moving back and forth from the right side to the left and from the first story to the third before returning to the top of the central bay. The reading then returned to ground level and the images on the four bases and intercolumnar spaces at the bottom of the arch.

Ramírez de Vargas and his colleagues did not formulate and execute the Idea for the arch in response to a call for participation in a certámen, but the challenge was similar in concept, rendering the commission a de facto competition among poets staged over the course of decades.75 This point could not have been lost on the elite spectators of the event, who understood poetic practice as a form of competition guided by strict rules of form and subject matter. In a passage in her book for the entry of the Viceroy Marquis of la Laguna, Juana Inés de la Cruz underscored the point as she identified her intended audience for the literary component of her Idea. The arch operated, she wrote, by “bringing its inscriptions to the attention of the learned just as [it brings] its colors to the eyes of the masses.”76

Some spectators would have been present at multiple viceregal entries in the final decades of the seventeenth century, and they would have understood Ramírez de Vargas's Idea for the cathedral arch as one in a series of Ideas to which it could be compared. Festival books like Zodíaco ilustre sustained memories of the decorated structures and facilitated comparisons among them. Ramírez de Vargas provides an example of this kind of retrospection in presenting his Idea in 1696:

It does not seem to be by chance but instead by Providence that the poets of this Mexican Cayster have exhausted the persuasive Ideas of the greatest heroes of the pagan world in the laudable receptions and triumphal arches that the courtier has erected up to now with respect to the most excellent Lords Viceroys. Because making an examination of all of them, the careful reader found that Hercules was left out, perhaps because the vates (as poets were called) had foreseen that the most excellent Lord Sir Joseph Sarmiento Valladares would come.77

The author was mistaken in his claim of originality for his idea for the Count of Moctezuma's arch, but his error is suggestive. In 1650, the arch erected for the entry of the Viceroy Count of Alva de Aliste was also decorated with Herculean iconography.78 The author of the accompanying book is unknown, identified only as a member of the Jesuit order. Omission of the authors' names occurs also in the publications for the arches of the Viceroy Marquis of Villena in 1640 and the Viceroy Duke of Alburquerque in 1653. In the same era, the cathedral arch of 1642 for the Viceroy Count of Salvatierra was commemorated in a book authored by the Jesuit priest Alonso de Medina, a man whose other literary work—if it exists—remains unknown.

If Ramírez de Vargas knew about the text on the earlier Hercules-themed arch, he may have ignored it because he regarded it as the work of a minor poet of an earlier generation, one who did not rise to his own stature or that of his esteemed contemporaries. Indeed, there is a conspicuous difference between the authors of the books for the cathedral arches from the first half of the seventeenth century and those from its final decades. The former are either unidentified or relatively minor men of letters, but the latter—Ramírez de Vargas, Juana Inés de la Cruz, Miguel de Perea Quintanilla, and Diego de Ribera—are acclaimed poets.

Accompanying this change in status is a shift in how the authors conceived of the relationship between the arch as a built structure (fábrica) and the Ideas they developed to imbue it with meaning. In Sebastián Gutiérrez's book of 1625, the fábrica is given prominence on the title page, the words “arco triunfal” (triumphal arch) appearing in the largest typeface at the top of the composition (Figure 14). The longer title—Arco triunfal y explicación de sus historias, empresas, y jeroglíficos (Triumphal Arch and Explanation of Its Images, Emblems, and Symbols)—presents the arch as a multimedia form, a structure whose images, emblems, and symbols are integral to it. The book printed for the entry of the Viceroy Count of Alva de Aliste (1650) presents a similarly holistic view of the arch, with the metaphorical title Allegorical Portal [and] Political Mirror Which the August and Illustrious Metropolitan Church of Mexico Dedicated to the Most Excellent Lord Sir Luis Henrique de Guzmán […].79 In contrast, Juana Inés de la Cruz privileges the Idea over the fábrica, with her text for the Viceroy Marquis of la Laguna noting that the triumphal arch was “ideated with these messages” (ideose con estos fundamentos). Ramírez de Vargas is even more emphatic on this point. The title of the book printed for the Count of Moctezuma distinguishes between the author's “poéticas ideas” (poetic ideas) and the “festivo aparato” (festive apparatus) (see Figure 2); appended to the diagrammatic ekphrasis is his claim that the fourteen spaces designated for visual images on the arch would accommodate the emblems (empresas) “that were able to fit in the space of the construction [fábrica], for even if [the construction] were more expansive, it would suffer the choke of oppression.”80

Figure 14

Title page from Sebastián Gutiérrez, Arco triunfal, y explicación de sus historias, empresas, y jeroglíficos […] (Mexico City: Diego Garrido, 1625; Rare Book Division, New York Public Library).

Figure 14

Title page from Sebastián Gutiérrez, Arco triunfal, y explicación de sus historias, empresas, y jeroglíficos […] (Mexico City: Diego Garrido, 1625; Rare Book Division, New York Public Library).

For Ramírez de Vargas, the expansive Idea is greater than the constrained fábrica, a position he also stresses in his book for the entry of the Viceroy Count of Galve, whose title page distinguishes between the poet's Idea centering on Cadmus, the king of Thebes, and the “sumptuous construction of a triumphal arch.”81 Making the contrast even more pronounced, the words “Arco triumphal” appear in the seventh line of the title in the smallest of typefaces (Figure 15).

Figure 15

Title page from Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Simulacro histórico político, idea simbólica del héroe Cadmo […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Francisco Rodríguez Lupercio, 1688; Centro de Estudios de Historia de México, Mexico City).

Figure 15

Title page from Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Simulacro histórico político, idea simbólica del héroe Cadmo […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Francisco Rodríguez Lupercio, 1688; Centro de Estudios de Historia de México, Mexico City).

Conclusion

The viceregal entry, in which architecture, painting, poetry, music, and performance came together in an extraordinary political spectacle, is a paradigm of the unification of artistic media in the culture of the baroque. But a close look at the key primary sources for these events—the festival books produced to accompany them—shows that Ramírez de Vargas and his cohort of poets in the late seventeenth century called attention to the division of artistic labor rather than its unity. It is through words and speech rather than carved wood and painted canvas, they imply, that the Idea of the viceroy's parity with strong, virtuous men from classical antiquity is best expressed. Their position might be understood in relation to guild practices and legislation that required carpenters, joiners, gilders, and painters to prove their expertise by successfully completing rigorous examinations before they could achieve the rank of master and accept commissions. Indeed, within these parameters, a poet could not legitimately design the architectural structure.

At the same time, Ramírez de Vargas's insistence on the distinct contribution of poetry and prose occurred at a particularly intense locus of artistic one-upmanship: the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City in the late seventeenth century. It was then and there that the master painters Cristóbal de Villalpando and Juan de Correa were completing the large canvases covering the walls of the sacristy, the former proclaiming his prowess by appending the label of “inventor” to his name on his painting The Triumph of Saint Michael (ca. 1686–88).82 The final decades of the century also saw the cathedral's administrators commissioning gilded altarpieces for some of the chapels, among them those of Our Lady of Solitude and Saint Peter. The contract for the latter, signed in 1672, reveals that the design the administrators selected, that of the gilder Alonso de Jerez, was one of several submitted for consideration. Both of those retablos made extensive use of the Solomonic column, a novel architectural element in Mexico City at that time.83 Its twisting form animated the retablos and aroused a sense of splendor while simultaneously asserting a connection to European architecture and a break with the Vitruvian and Serlian forms in use there for more than a century. The architectural work that was spatially closest to the arch for the Count of Moctezuma, though, was Cristóbal de Medina Vargas's completion of the west transept portal frontispiece, a structure whose design and scale would inevitably be compared to the triumphal arch.

These and other projects under way at the Mexico City Cathedral came about through the patronage of two entities: the cathedral chapter and the viceroy. The successful completion of commissions for important and highly visible works like these could lead to other commissions and a steady stream of income, but it also afforded social status to the artists, along with proximity to the highest-ranking authorities in the city. Villalpando, for example, was appointed inspector (veedor) of the city's guild of painters by the Viceroy Marquis of la Laguna in 1686, and he continued to earn prestigious commissions into the eighteenth century.84 Medina Vargas, too, was rewarded greatly. He held the lofty title maestro mayor de arquitectura de las provincias de la Nueva España y de la obras reales de arquitectura (principal master of architecture in the provinces of New Spain and of royal works of architecture) and attained significant wealth during his lifetime.85 Poets, too, depended on those patrons for their reputations and livelihoods, and composing the books accompanying festivals like the viceregal entry provided them with opportunities to curry favor with both the cathedral chapter and the viceroy. Ramírez de Vargas saw success in this arena, having been commissioned to formulate the Idea for two successive cathedral arches at the end of the century. His contributions, however, speak to the idiosyncrasies of the competitive artistic environment in which he worked. In a literary culture with a long history of describing and praising the city's buildings, he stepped away from architectural ekphrasis in his poetic treatment of the most monumental component of the viceregal entry: the triumphal arch.

Notes

1.

For their helpful feedback and suggestions, I am grateful to Keith Eggener, Joseph Cho, Jesús Escobar, George Flaherty, Aaron Hyman, Stefanie Lew, Katherine McAllen, Adele Nelson, Sheryl Reiss, Enrique Rodríguez, Judy Selhorst, Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Juan Vitulli, and the participants in the Permanent Seminar in Latin American Art at the Center for Latin American Visual Studies, University of Texas at Austin. All translations are my own.

2.

On the viceroy's arrival in Mexico City, see Antonio de Robles, Diario de sucesos notables (Mexico City: Editorial Porrua, 1972), 3:54; on his retinue, see Archivo General de Indias, Contratación, 5458, no. 1, r. 27.

3.

Robles, Diario de sucesos notables, 3:58.

4.

“Admiracion primorosa de la Arquitectura.” Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Zodiaco illvstre de blasones heroycos, gyrado del sol politico, imagen de principes que occvltó en su Hercules Thebano la sabiduria mythologica […] (Mexico City: Joseph Guillena Carrascoso, 1696), fol. A4r. Here and throughout, titles and passages from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century publications are provided with their original orthography and punctuation in the endnotes and are modernized in the text. The vara is equivalent to 83.5 centimeters, or 33 inches.

5.

Francisco de Solano, Las voces de la ciudad: México a través de sus impresos (1539–1821) (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1994), 175–79; Guillermo Tovar de Teresa, Bibliografía novohispana de arte, primera parte (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1988).

6.

Ramírez de Vargas previously had composed two books for viceregal entries: Elogio panegirico, festivo aplavso, iris politico, y diseño triunfal de Eneas verdadero (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderon, 1664); and Simvlacro historico politico, idea symbolica del heroe Cadmo […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Francisco Rodríguez Lupercio, 1688). The books printed for the entry of the Marquis of la Laguna are Juana Inés de la Cruz, Neptvno alegorico, oceano de colores, simvlacro politico (Mexico City: Juan de Ribera, 1680); and Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, Theatro de virtvdes politicas (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1680).

7.

These materials are surveyed in the multivolume series La fiesta barroca (Castelló de la Plana: Universitat Jaume I, 2010–), produced by the Triunfos Barrocos project, which is directed by Víctor Mínguez; contributors to the series include Mínguez, Juan Chiva Beltrán, Pablo González Tornel, and Inmaculada Rodríguez Moya. See also Fernando Checa and Laura Fernández-González, eds., Festival Culture in the World of the Spanish Habsburgs (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2015).

8.

Important foundational works on this subject include Roy Strong, Art and Power: Renaissance Festivals, 1450–1650 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984); Antonio Bonet Correa, “La fiesta barroca como práctica del poder,” Diwan 5–6 (1979), 53–85. Studies on the viceregal entry in Mexico City include Juan Chiva Beltrán, El triunfo del virrey, glorias novohispanas: Origen, apogeo y ocaso de la entrada virreinal (Castelló de la Plana: Universitat Jaume I, 2012); Linda A. Curcio-Nagy, The Great Festivals of Colonial Mexico City: Performing Power and Identity (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004), 15–40; Inmaculada Rodríguez Moya, La mirada del virrey: Iconografía del poder en Nueva España (Castelló de la Plana: Universitat Jaume I, 2003), 94–105; Víctor Mínguez, Los reyes distantes: Imágenes del poder en México virreinal (Castelló de la Plana: Universitat Jaume I, 1995), 31–45.

9.

Studies include Beatriz Colombi, “El Neptuno alegórico de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Fábula clásica, emblemática y mitografía criolla,” in Ingenio y feminidad: Nuevos enfoques en la estética de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, ed. Barbara Ventarola (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2017), 71–96; María Fernández, Cosmopolitanism in Mexican Visual Culture (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014), 26–67; Anna More, Baroque Sovereignty: Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora and the Creole Archive of Colonial Mexico (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 110–57; Claudia Parodi, “Fiestas palaciegas: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz y el Neptuno alegórico, Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora y el Teatro de virtudes políticas,” in Centro y periferia: Cultura, lengua y literatura virreinales en América, ed. Claudia Parodi and Jimena Rodríguez (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2011), 29–44.

10.

Luis Javier Cuesta Hernández, Ut architectura poesis: Relaciones entre arquitectura y literatura en la Nueva España durante el siglo XVII (Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2013), 83–110; Víctor Mínguez, Inmaculada Rodríguez Moya, Pablo González Tornel, and Juan Chiva, La fiesta barroca: Los virreinatos americanos (1560–1808) (Castelló de la Plana: Universitat Jaume I, 2012), 21–33; Dalmacio Rodríguez Hernández, Texto y fiesta en la literatura novohispana (1650–1700) (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1998), 119–69.

11.

Francisco de la Maza, Mitología clásica en el arte colonial de Mexico (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1968), 136–39; Tovar de Teresa, Bibliografía novohispana de arte, 354–57; Dalmacio Rodríguez Hernández, “Los arcos triunfales en la época de Carlos II,” in Teatro y poder en la época de Carlos II, ed. Judith Farré (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2007), 267–85; Judith Farré, “Pedagogía de virreyes y arcos de triunfo en la Nueva España a finales del siglo XVII,” Destiempos 14 (Mar.–Apr. 2008), 262–73; Judith Farré, “Cartografía simbólica de la ciudad de México y pedagogía de virreyes (1665–1700),” in Dramaturgía y espectáculo teatral en la época de los Austrias, ed. Judith Farré (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2009), 167–90.

12.

Zodiaco illvstre de blasones heroycos, gyrado del sol politico, imagen de principes que occvltó en su Hercules Thebano la Sabiduria Mythologica. Deziphrado en poeticas ideas, y expresado en colores de la Pintura que en el festivo aparato de el Triumphal Arco en el mas fausto dia dispuso, y erigió al Exmo Señor Don Joseph Sarmiento Valladares.

13.

Descripcion, y explicacion de la fabrica, y empresas del svmptvoso arco […] (Mexico City: Juan Ruiz, 1640); Marte catholico astro politico, planeta de heroes, y ascendente de principes […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1653); Ramírez de Vargas, Elogio panegirico.

14.

Alejandro Cañeque, “Espejo de virreyes: El arco triunfal del siglo XVII como manual efímero del buen gobernante,” in Reflexión y espectáculo en la América virreinal, ed. José Pascual Buxó (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2007), 199–218.

15.

Earl Rosenthal, “Plus Ultra, Non Plus Ultra, and the Columnar Device of Emperor Charles V,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 34 (1971), 204–28; Jonathan Brown and John H. Elliott, A Palace for a King: The Buen Retiro and the Court of Philip IV, 2nd ed. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2003), 163–70; de la Maza, Mitología clásica, 23–30; Luis Javier Cuesta Hernández, Arquitectura del renacimiento en Nueva España (Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2009), 83–94; Portada alegórica, espejo politico […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1650). More generally, see Dian Fox, Hercules and the King of Portugal: Icons of Masculinity and Nation in Calderón's Spain (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019); José Luis Pérez Flores, Sergio González Varela, and J. Armando Hernández Soubervielle, eds., Hércules en el mito, la historia, y el arte iberoamericano: Relatos de una figura de poder y dominación (Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2015).

16.

On this relationship, see Michael Schreffler, The Art of Allegiance: Visual Culture and Imperial Power in Baroque New Spain (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2007); Alejandro Cañeque, The King's Living Image: The Culture and Politics of Viceregal Power in Colonial Mexico (New York: Routledge, 2004); Rodríguez Moya, La mirada del virrey; Mínguez, Los reyes distantes.

17.

On the pictorial program, see Tovar de Teresa, Bibliografía novohispana de arte, 354–57.

18.

“Cavallero del Orden de Santiago, Conde de Moctesuma, y de Tula, Visconde de Ilucan Señor de la Villa de Monterrosano, y de la Pesa, del Consejo de su Magestad, Virrey, Governador, y Capitan General de esta Nueva-España, y Presidente de la Real Audiencia, y Chancilleria, que en ella reside La Santa Iglesia Metropolitana de Mexico.” Ramírez de Vargas, Zodiaco illvstre, title page.

19.

Those rulers were Moctezuma I (d. 1469) and Moctezuma II (d. 1520).

20.

Donald E. Chipman, Moctezuma's Children: Aztec Royalty under Spanish Rule, 1520–1700 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005), 133–38; Xosé Ramón Barreiro Fernández, “Os Moctezuma e Galicia (I): Sarmiento de Valladares, Conde de Moctezuma, Vicerrei de Nova España (1676–1701),” Estudios migratorios 3 (1997), 35–63.

21.

“En la puerta del tmeplo [sic], que mira al Ocaso se levantò en trienta varas à la eminencia, y diez y seis à la anchura, rematando en punta diagonal la magnifica, y lucida fabrica.” Ramírez de Vargas, Zodiaco illvstre, fol. A5r.

22.

“El primero [sic] cuerpo se compuso de obra corinthia, fundamentada sobre diez pedestales, que resaltaban al primor del Arte con sus intercolumnios: las columnas eran ayroso remedo de Jazpe, y el zoclo corniza, corona, y collarin emulacion bella del bronze, continuada en su Plinto, Baza, y Capitel. El Alquitrabe, Trigliphos, y Collarin, seguian la misma imitacion del bronze. “El segundo cuerpo se ordenó de obra composita, con diez columnas jazpeadas, y revestidas con el tercio de laurel, y variedad de ojas de bronze, con sus Bassas sobre la sotabanca de jazpe, Collarin, Molduras, Capiteles, Trigliphos, Friso, Corniza, y bolada de jazpe. “El tercero [sic] cuerpo fue de orden Dorico, en que se veían seis Bichas persicas, cuerpo de bronze, y piernas de jazpe, coronado el Capitel composito, y Corinthio: Paflon, y Alquitrabe de bronze, y Friso de jazpe. “Dos Frontis en linea Diagonal descollando en medio el escudo de su Ex. á los lados las entrecalles con dos Arbotantes de bronze, y jazpe, Architectura, Friso, y Cornizas de lo mismo, con sus Frontispicios, y Zercha à los remates.” Ramírez de Vargas, fol. A4r.

23.

On this subject I have found two publications especially useful: Ruth Webb, Ekphrasis, Imagination and Persuasion in Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Practice (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2009); Courtney Robey, Technical Ekphrasis in Greek and Roman Science and Literature: The Written Machine between Alexandria and Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

24.

José de Santiago, “Retablos del siglo XVII en la ciudad de México,” in Los retablos de la ciudad de México, siglos XVI al XX: Una guía (Mexico City: Asociación del Patrimonio Artístico Mexicano, 2005), 131–33; Martha Fernández, Cristóbal de Medina Vargas y la arquitectura salomónica en la Nueva España durante el siglo XVII (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2002), 174–76; George Wharton James, “Un documento acerca del retablo de San Pedro de la Catedral de México,” Boletín de Monumentos Históricos 4 (1980), 17–22.

25.

Juan Francisco del Barrio Lorenzot, Ordenanzas de gremios de la Nueva España (Mexico City: Dirección de Talleres Gráficos, 1921), 84.

26.

Andrés Jiménez García, “Los retablos de la congregación de los dolores en la iglesia jesuita de San Pedro y San Pablo de la ciudad de México (1678–97),” in Retablos: Su restauración, estudio y conservación, ed. Martha Fernández (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2003), 80–85.

27.

Archivo General de Notarías de la Ciudad de México, Protocolos, notario Nicolás Arauz, 1660/08/06, Libro 12, fol. 32r–v.

28.

Velia Morales Pérez, “Rodrigo de la Piedra y su familia: Noticias preliminares acerca de un pintor del siglo XVII,” Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas 29, no. 90 (2007), 46.

29.

Morales Pérez, 52–54.

30.

Barrio Lorenzot, Ordenanzas de gremios, 17, 84, 86. On architectural training in seventeenth-century Mexico City more generally, see Martha Fernández, Arquitectura y gobierno virreinal: Los maestros mayores de la ciudad de México, siglo XVII (Mexico City: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1985), 25–62; José Antonio Terán Bonilla, La enseñanza de la arquitectura en la Nueva España durante el periodo barroco (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1987).

31.

On Ramírez de Vargas's biography and poetic career, see Olga Martha Peña Doria and Guillermo Schmidhuber de la Mora, “Poesía novohispana: Comprobación genealógica del parentesco del poeta Alonso Ramírez de Vargas con Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,” eHumanista 39 (2018), 309–20; Rodríguez Hernández, Texto y fiesta, 67–118.

32.

The most useful synthetic source on this topic is Cuesta Hernández, Ut arquitectura poesis.

33.

Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, Commentaria in Ludovici Vives exercitationes lingua Latinae (Mexico City: Joannem Paulum Brisensem, 1554), fol. 261r. On De architectura in Mexico City, see Helga von Kügelgen, “Exportación de libros europeos de Sevilla a la Nueva España en el año 1586,” in Libros europeos de Sevilla a la Nueva España en el año 1586 (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1973), 26–105; José Torre Revello, “Tratados de arquitectura utilizados en hispanoamérica, siglos XVI a XVIII,” Revista interamericana de bibliografía 6 (1956), 3–23.

34.

Cervantes de Salazar, Commentaria, fols. 247v–257r.

35.

On this architectural title page, see Rodrigo Martínez Baracs, “La portada reutilizada,” in El largo descubrimiento del “Opera medicinalia” de Francisco Bravo (Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2014). On architectural title pages more generally, see Helen Smith, “Paratexts,” in The Printed and the Built: Architecture, Print Culture, and Public Debate in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Mari Hvattum and Anne Hultzsch (London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2018), 251–57; Alistair Fowler, The Mind of the Book: Pictorial Title Pages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 15–21; William H. Sherman, “On the Threshold: Architecture, Paratext, and Early Print Culture,” in Agents of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, ed. Sabrina Alcorn Baron, Eric N. Lindquist, and Eleanor F. Shevlin (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), 67–81.

36.

Alonso Ramírez de Vargas, Sagrado padron y panegyricos sermones a la memoria debida al svmptvoso Magnifico Templo y curiosa Basilica del Convento de Religiosas del glorioso Abad San Bernardo […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Francisco Rodríguez Lupercio, 1690), fol. 4r.

37.

Ramírez de Vargas, fol. 5v.

38.

Ramírez de Vargas, fols. 9v–11v.

39.

“Es la materia de sus columnas, basas, arquitraves, cornijas, frisos arbotantes, y guarniciones, de canteria, sus muros, ó mampostas de piedra roja, que el Idioma Mexicano llama Tetzontle.” Ramírez de Vargas, fols. 5v–6r.

40.

“Con basas, vozeles, capiteles, collarines con agallones, triglifos, y florones, con frisos, cornijas y alquitraue.” Ramírez de Vargas, fol. 10r.

41.

Vitruvius, De architectvra, dividido en diez libros, traduzidos de Latin en Castellano por Miguel de Vrrea […] (Alcalá de Henares: Juan Gracian, 1582), bk. 3, fol. 45r.

42.

Sebastiano Serlio, Tercero y quarto libro de architectura (Toledo: Juan de Ayala, 1552), bk. 4, fol. 49v.

43.

“Primeramente el alto del piedestal, el zoco del qual esta señalado con la .G. es de un pie y tres onças: y el neto del piedestal señalado con la .F. es de quatro pies y tres onças y media: y la cornija de encima del, es de diez onças y media de alto: y el alto de la basa de la columna tiene un pie: el plinto de la qual se convierte en la corona Lisis o medio desvan: lo qual me paresce muy bien, porque yo he visto algunos piedestales griegos y tienen esta misma forma.” Serlio, bk. 3, fol. 68v.

44.

“Y el alto del çoco de sobre esta Cornija tiene un pie y dos onças. El alto del piedestal en el bivo, es de dos pies y una onça. Y su Cornija tiene seys onças. Y el Cabeto o desvan que esta sobresta Cornija, al qual Vitruvio llama corona Lisis, a mi parescer deve ser de cinco onças.” Serlio, bk. 3, fol. 65r.

45.

Maria Beltramini, “Un equivoco vitruviano di Sebastiano Serlio: La ‘corona lisis,’” Annalli della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa 5, no. 1 (2000), 275–316.

46.

Luis Javier Cuesta Hernández, “Conforme al arte de arquitectura: Un intento de explicación a la presencia de Serlio en Nueva España y sus contextos,” Cuadernos de Arte de la Universidad de Granada 41 (2010), 63–76; Luis Javier Cuesta Hernández, “Sebastián Serlio y el virreinato de Nueva España: Usos y recepcion(es),” Anuario del Departamento de Historia y Teoría del Arte 22 (2010), 9–22.

47.

Some of these sections of the festival books are considered in José Simón Díaz, El libro español antiguo: Análysis de su estructura (Kassel: Reichenberger, 1982).

48.

In addition to the book by Juana Inés de la Cruz and the two by Ramírez de Vargas previously cited, the following three books were published in this period: Alonso Peña y Peralta and Pedro Fernández Osorio, Pan mystico, nvmen symbolico […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1670); Miguel de Perea Quintanilla and Diego de Ribera, Historica imagen de proezas […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1673); Proporcion alegorica, imagen emblematica […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Juan de Ribera, 1686).

49.

Recopilación de leyes de los reynos de las Indias, vol. 2, 2nd ed. (Madrid: Antonio Balbas, 1756), bk. III, Title III, Law XIX, fols. 15v–16r.

50.

“El Arco que sirve para las entradas y recibimiento de los Señores Virreyes que se pone en la esquina de Santo Domingo de dicha Ciudad.” Quoted in De la Maza, Mitología clásica, 13. De la Maza notes that the document is in the Archivo General de Notarías del Estado de Puebla. On Carnero's work on the arch, see Rogelio Ruiz Gomar, “El pintor José Rodríguez Carnero (1649–1725),” Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas 19, no. 70 (1997), 68–69.

51.

Cuesta Hernández, Arquitectura del renacimiento en Nueva España, 210–17; Manuel Toussaint, La Catedral de México, 2nd ed. (Mexico City: Porrúa, 1973), 17–19; Isidro de Sariñana, Noticia breve de la solemne, deseada, vltima dedicacion del Templo Metropolitano de Mexico […] (Mexico City: Francisco Rodríguez Lupercio, 1668), fols. 3r–4r.

52.

Here and in what follows, data on the construction of the cathedral are derived from Martha Fernández, “El rediseño de la catedral,” in La Catedral de México (Mexico City: Fundación BBVA Bancomer, 2014), 125–41; Toussaint, La Catedral de México, 21–59; Sariñana, Noticia breve, fols. 4r–18r.

53.

Sebastián Gutiérrez, Arco trivmphal, y explicacion de sus historias, empressas, y hieroglyphicos […] (Mexico City: Diego Garrido, 1625), fols. 19r–20r; Zodiaco regio, Templo Politico: Al excellentissimo señor don Diego Lopez Pacheco […] (Mexico City: Francisco Robledo, 1640), fol. A2r.

54.

“Perficionar del todo la grandiosa Fabrica de la Yglesia Mayor, cuya Obra por muchos años impedida.” Zodiaco regio, fol. A1v.

55.

Zodiaco regio, fol. A3r–v.

56.

Gregorio Martín de Guijo, Diario, 1648–1664, ed. Manuel Romero de Terreros, 2 vols. (Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1952), 1:108.

57.

The height, as stipulated by the architect Claudio de Arciniega, appears in Juan Gómez de Trasmonte, [Propuesto para] desbaratar los quatro Pilares del Cruzero (Mexico City, 1630–40), fol. B1r.

58.

“Quatro medias-columnas estriadas con sus nichos intermedios, sobre cuyos capiteles volada vna primorosa cornija recibe otras quatro menores, que están oy á mas de la mitad, y han de guarnecer tres ventanas, las dos collaterales quadradas, y la de en medio con cerramiento vaído, sobre la qual está otra circular.” Sariñana, Noticia breve, fol. 22v.

59.

On the completion of the frontispiece in 1689, see Fernández, Cristóbal de Medina Vargas, 279. On the proposal to increase the height of the nave walls, see Gómez de Trasmonte, [Propuesto para] desbaratar, fol. B1r.

60.

Martha Fernández, “La Catedral de México y sus problemas constructivas,” in La Catedral de México: Problemática, restauración, y conservación en el futuro, ed. Martha Fernández (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1997), 39–61.

61.

Measurements based on data in Patricia Aguilera Jiménez, Catedral Metropolitana: Hundimiento y rescate (Mexico City: Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2013); Fernando López Carmona and Agustín Hernández Hernández, Proyecto de corrección geométrica: Catedral y Sagrario Metropolitanas (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2017).

62.

Manuel González Galván writes that the royal coat of arms on the lobe atop the west transept portal was removed by order of the National Congress on 2 May 1826. See his “Pérdidas, mutilaciones y alteraciones estético-alegóricas en la catedral,” in Fernández, La Catedral de México, 63–76.

63.

On stylistically generative ephemeral architecture, see, for example, Francisco Ollero Lobato, “Plazas efímeras del Barroco Hispánico,” in Barroco iberoamericano: Identidades culturales de un imperio, ed. Carme López Calderón, María de los Ángeles Fernández Valle, and Inmaculada Rodríguez Moya (Santiago de Compostela: Andavira Editora, 2013), 2:27–56; Antonio Bonet Correa, “La fiesta barroca como práctica del poder,” in Fiesta, poder y arquitectura: Aproximaciones al barroco español (Madrid: Ediciones Akal, 1990), 9.

64.

Fernández, Cristóbal de Medina Vargas; Fernández, Arquitectura y gobierno virreinal; Martha Fernández, “Algunas reflexiones en torno a las portadas de la cathedral de México,” Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas 14, no. 53 (1983), 81–94.

65.

Diego de Ribera, Poetica descripcion de la pompa plavsible que admiro esta ciudad de Mexico, en la svmptuosa dedicacion de sv hermoso, magnifico, y ya acabado templo (Mexico City: Francisco Rodríguez Lupercio, 1668); Diego de Ribera, Poetica descripcion, compendio breve de la pompa plavsible, y festiva solemnidad, que hizo el Religioso Convento de Nuestra Señora de Balvanera de esta ciudad de México (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderon, 1671); Diego de Ribera, Breve relacion de la plavsible pompa, y cordial regocijo, con que se celebró la dedicacion del Templo del ínclito Martir S[an] Felipe de Jesús […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1673).

66.

Miguel de Perea Quintanilla and Diego de Ribera, Simbolico glorioso asumpto, que á los cisnes mexicanos insta a el métrico certamen […] (Mexico City: Viuda de Bernardo Calderón, 1673).

67.

On Ribera, see Carmen Araceli Eudave Loera, “Diego de Ribera, 1630–1688: Crónista lírico de la ciudad de México” (PhD diss., Colegio de México, 2009).

68.

Cornelius Conover, Pious Imperialism: Saintly Biography and the Cult of Saints in Mexico City (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2019), 59–84; Cornelius Conover, “Saintly Biography and the Cult of San Felipe de Jesús in Mexico City, 1597–1697,” The Americas 67, no. 4 (Apr. 2011), 441–66.

69.

On certámenes generally, see José Pascual Buxó, Arco y certamen de la poesía mexicana colonial (siglo XVII) (Jalapa: Universidad Veracruzana, 1959); Rodríguez Hernández, Texto y fiesta; Martha Lilia Tenorio, El góngorismo en Nueva España: Ensayo de restitución (Mexico City: Colegio de México, 2013).

70.

Definitions of the poetic genres are from Vincent Barletta, Mark L. Bajus, and Cici Mallik, eds., Dreams of Waking: An Anthology of Iberian Lyric Poetry, 1400–1700 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 14.

71.

Carlos Sigüenza y Góngora, Trivmpho parthenico qve en glorias de Maria, santissima immaculadamente concebida, celebró la Pontificia, Imperial, y Regia Academia Mexicana […] (Mexico City: Juan de Ribera, 1683), fols. 53v, 58r.

72.

Sigüenza y Góngora, fols. 99r, 108r, 113r. On Sor Juana's use of pseudonyms in this instance, see Stephanie Kirk, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and the Gender Politics of Knowledge in Colonial Mexico (New York: Routledge, 2016), 136.

73.

“Imagen de principes…deziphrado en poeticas ideas, y expresado en colores de la Pintura.” Ramírez de Vargas, Zodiaco illvstre, title page.

74.

See Carmen Saucedo Zarco, “Decreto del cabildo Catedral de México para que a Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz se le paguen 200 pesos por el Neptuno alegórico,” Relaciones: Estudios de Historia y Sociedad 20 (Winter 1999), 185–91.

75.

As Buxó notes in his Arco y certamen, the composition of festival books and participation in certámenes were similar kinds of undertakings in the sense that both were closely linked to particular occasions—a viceroy's ceremonial entry, the dedication of a church, the celebration of the feast of the Immaculate Conception—and both were subject to constraints of theme and genre.

76.

“Llevandose sus inscripciones la atención de los entendidos, como sus colores los ojos de los vulgares.” Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Neptvno alegorico, fol. 142r.

77.

“Qve los Cisnes de este Mexicano Caystro ayan agotado en argumentos las Ideas de los mas Grandes Heroes de la Gentilidad en los plausibles recebimientos, y triumphales Arcos, que ha erigido el Cortesano respecto hasta ahóra á los Excelentissimos Señores Virreyes, no parece acaso, sino provi de[n]cia. Porque haziendo de todos inspeccion el cuidado, halló, que se dexaron á Hercules en olvido; quisa como Vates (que assi llamaron á los Poetas) previniendo, que avia de venir en el Exmo Señor Don Joseph Sarmiento Valladares.” Ramírez de Vargas, Zodiaco illvstre, fol. B1v. In using the phrase “Mexicano Caystro” Ramírez de Vargas was comparing Mexico City with the Cayster River and its valley in what is today the nation of Turkey. In antiquity, the region was home to the city of Ephesus and a famous temple to Artemis.

78.

Portada alegórica.

79.

Gutiérrez, Arco trivmphal; Portada alegórica.

80.

“Que pudieron caber en el espacio de la fabrica: pues aunque fuera mas dilatada, padeciera el ahogo de oprimída.” Ramírez de Vargas, Zodiaco illvstre, fol. A4v.

81.

Ramírez de Vargas, Simvlacro historico politico, idea symbolica del heroe Cadmo, qve en la sumptuosa fabrica de vn arco triumphal dedica festiva, y consagra […].

82.

Clara Bargellini, “Sacristía de la Catedral de México,” in Cristóbal de Villalpando, ca. 1649–1714: Catálogo razonado, ed. Juana Gutiérrez Haces (Mexico City: Fondo Cultura Banamex, 1997), 202–11; Clara Bargellini, “El artista ‘inventor’ novohispano,” in Nombrar y explicar: La terminología en el estudio del arte ibérico y latinoamericano, ed. Patricia Díaz Cayeros, Montserrat Galí Boadella, and Peter Krieger (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2010), 121–38; Aaron Hyman, “Inventing Painting: Cristóbal de Villalpando, Juan Correa, and New Spain's Transatlantic Canon,” Art Bulletin 99, no. 2 (2017), 102–35.

83.

On the retablos, see Fernández, Cristóbal de Medina Vargas, 177–79. On the contract for San Pedro, see James, “Un documento acerca del retablo.”

84.

Juana Gutiérrez Haces, ed., Cristóbal de Villalpando, ca. 1649–1714: Catáolog razonado (Mexico City: Fondo Cultura Banamex, 1997).

85.

Fernández, Arquitectura y gobierno virreinal, 120; Fernández, Cristóbal de Medina Vargas, 193–315.