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 Ernesto Icaza  (1866 - 1935)

About: Ernesto Icaza


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Lived/Active: Mexico      Known for: painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Ernesto Icaza


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Biography from Christie's New York, Rockefeller Center:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born into an aristocratic family, Ernesto Icaza was well poised to explore the life of the charro, Mexico's "country gentleman" who frequently appears in nineteenth-century rural genre scenes.  Like the gaucho in Argentina or the cowboy in the United States, the charro embodies a "Wild West" persona from a bygone era that has become tied to national identity. 

In the years in between independence and the Mexican Revolution, charro culture thrived as vast tracts of farming and ranch lands were owned and operated by hacendados, members of the country's wealthy elite, many of whom were friends or relatives of Icaza's family.  The young Icaza was thus a frequently invited guest at numerous haciendas at the turn of the century, affording him the opportunity to immerse himself in charro life. 

Indeed, Icaza spent his days not only painting charro traditions, but also enthusiastically participating in their suertes, the nine specific events performed as competitions between haciendas that ranged from the skillful cala de caballo, similar to dressage, to the most dangerous, el paso de la muerte, which involved jumping from a galloping horse onto the back of a running bull.  While little is known of Icaza's talents as an actual charro, the acuity with which he captured the emotion and tension of the suertes in his paintings reveals his intimate knowledge of his subject. 

Always rendered in a naïve style, as Icaza had no formal artistic training, his work conveys an authenticity that is unsurpassed by any other painter of this genre, making him, as the curator Fernando Gamboa declared, the "charro pintor de charros."

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