Isabel II: Images of Power Between Spain and Puerto Rico, 1833-1868

The reign of Elizabeth II (1833–1868) was a period of political and social change for both Spain and Puerto Rico. The exhibition Isabel II: Images of Power between Spain and Puerto Rico explores some of the protagonists of an era seen from both sides of the Atlantic. In addition, the Museo de Arte de Ponce presents its new acquisition: the portrait of José Laureano Sanz y Posse (1822-1898), governor of Puerto Rico, who later received the title of Marquis of San Juan de Puerto Rico. Its author, Antonio María Esquivel, is recognized as one of the most important Spanish romantic painters.

The exhibition brings together several portraits of Elizabeth II, reflecting the difficulty of creating an official image of this queen repudiated from the beginning. Elizabeth II (1830–1904) was the first woman to occupy the throne of Spain in modern times. At the beginning of her reign in 1833, she became, at three years old, heir to a colonial empire in which the sun was not yet set. His reign was full of contradictions and ended with his dethroning and exile in 1868.

The character gallery also includes the Portrait of Francisco Marcos de Santaella, corrector of San Juan in the time of Elizabeth and Governor José Laureano Sanz in his military uniform as commander of the Spanish Army. Sanz held various positions in the war cabinet and as captain general of the Philippines and then, between 1868 and 1870, he was appointed governor and captain general of Puerto Rico. His term of office was characterized by political repression against liberals and nationalists as a result of the Grito de Lares on November 23, 1868.

The exhibition includes the flag of the Grito de Lares, prepared by the nationalist leader Mariana Bracetti, “Arm of Gold”. Along with the flag, two views of San Juan put the works in the context of a decisive period for Puerto Rico, which contributed to the development of the island identity in the face of Spanish centralism. While Spain lived in tensions and civil wars over the creation of the modern liberal state, Puerto Rico enjoyed prosperity due to immigration and economic growth.

The exhibition coincided with the presentation of the catalog of the Spanish collection. The catalogue contains the Museum’s collection of Spanish art over more than four centuries of painting and sculpture.