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La Niña Muerta / Juan Soriano

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Artist Juan Soriano observed post-mortem paintings while growing up in Guadalajara, though they fell from popularity by the early twentieth century. As an adult, he witnessed scenes of deceased children surrounded by flowers and candles, laid out in the open windows of their homes in the small villages of Veracruz. This painting (along with several others) was inspired by these memories.

Toward the upper right of this painting, the presence of angelitos suggests that the child will soon join the winged cherubs as guardian angels and may also refer to another folk tradition, Day of the Dead. On this day, the souls of children (also called angelitos), are welcomed back to join the living. In the background, the sorrowful face of a woman and a young child peeking around a curtain remind us of the mourning that surrounds such a loss.

Curiously, an unfinished portrait of a man in a suit is on the back side of this painting. Rendered in a completely different style, this portrait re

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La Niña Muerta; The Dead Girl; Dead Infant
Juan Soriano (Artist)
oil on board
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
Signed, "J. Soriano 44" in lower right on recto.
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