De Espanol, y Negra, Mulato, Mexico
Painting by Francisco Clapera of a family in Spanish Colonial Texas
Francisco Clapera’s painting (ca. 1775) depicts a Spanish father and African mother playing with their son in colonial Mexico. It was common in the colony for people from different racial groups to intermarry and have families. Popular paintings like this one presented the different castas.
Socio-racial classes called "castas" were used by the Spanish government to define people of mixed racial heritage. Each casta had its own set of rules and rights; the "purer" a person's Spanish heritage, the higher their status and more rights they had. Castas in Spanish Texas included Spaniards, American Indians, Mestizos (descendants of Spaniards and American Indians), Mulattos (descendants of Spaniards and Africans), and enslaved people.
The Spanish took regular censuses of their settlements. They counted every person, listing their name, age, sex, marital status, casta, and location. A census of the settlements in 1791 lists 1,214 Spaniards, 579 Indians, 590 Mestizos, 786 Mulattos, and 41 enslaved people.
Courtesy Denver Art Museum Collection
Time Period: 1690 - 1820
Exhibit: Becoming Texas
This artifact is currently on view.