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Romualdo García, Sin Título [Untitled], Guanajuato, Mexico c.1905-1914

Romualdo García (1852-1930)
Guanajuato, Mexico

Romualdo García is recognized as one of Latin America’s finest portrait photographers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  He was born in Silao, near Guanajuato, Mexico. When he opened his photography studio in Guanajuato in 1887, the city in central west Mexico was one of the most important regional capitals of Mexico, a conservative and wealthy silver mining city.

Guanajuato had a School of Applied Arts that was open to new technologies such as photography. Its upper classes and bourgeoisie looked to European culture and the fashion of France. It was a time when enormous technological advances made in photography gave all kinds of people access to high quality likenesses of themselves and multiple reproductions of photographic images at a relatively low cost. 
People of all ages and levels of income came to Mr. García’s studio in downtown Guanajuato. Some people came in their best clothes, others wore work clothes. They often came on private anniversaries and public holidays when there was something to celebrate, or after church on Sundays. They used the many props that portrait photographers like Mr. García would keep in their studios for their clients – books, telephones, elaborate furnishings and painted backdrops. These were props that reflected what people would value, often reflecting the technological advances of the period.   
From the range of his portraits, one can see that Romualdo García was sensitive to the political and social changes sweeping through Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century, moving from the predictability of the Porfirio Díaz regime to the tumult of the Mexican Revolution, whose beginnings came in 1910.

Most of Romualdo García’s existing archive dates from 1905 to 1914. In 1904, a flood engulfed Guanajuato and destroyed thousands of Mr. García’s early glass plate negatives. Despite this tragedy, his remaining images are remarkable record of the society of his time, rooted in nineteenth century society with its mixture of European colonialism and ‘Mexicanidad’.  His work stands out for its technical quality, sensitivity to its subjects, and, above all, the range of people it portrays. His archive is kept by the Museo de l’Alhondiga de las Granaditas in Guanajuato, Mexico.