L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dour and dim - two unfortunate portraits of the Emperor and Empress of Mexico, attributed to Santiago Rebull

Circa 1867.
Circa 1867.

These two portraits, most likely copies after the originals of Santiago Rebull, bring no honor to the memories of the ill-starred Maximiliano and Carlota of Mexico. The Empress, the ambitious daughter of the King of the Belgians, while handsome, had a fairly severe countenance, something her image here only accentuates. And while the Emperor's portrait doesn't gloss over his protruding lower lip - the infamous "Habsburg lip" - the artist might have asked HIM to close his mouth; the former archduke of Austria was no genius - he thought he could pull off being emperor of Mexico, after all - but the gaping mouth makes him look more than a bit dull-witted.

Santiago Rebull Gordillo (1829 - 1902, Mexico City) Mexican painter. Of Catalan descent, he was born on a boat sailing under a British flag to Spain. (His family had had to leave Mexico on account of the Republican government's Law of Expulsion directed at native-born Spanish males.) Returning to Mexico as a teenager, he entered the Academia de San Carlos at the age of eighteen; he would become director there in 1860, continuing in that position for the next forty years. In 1851 he was awarded a prize to study at the Accademia di San Luca in Italy, where he would remain for seven years. During the brief Mexican Empire, he was made pintor de camara to the Emperor and Empress, and was decorated with the order of Guadalupe.


1865 copy by Joaquín Ramírez of Rebull's state portrait, from which the version here was certainly taken.


  1. At that time, there were no specialists in phoniatrics.
    There are a lot of people in the 21st century who can not close their mouth completely.
    Normally, we should breathe completely through the nose, but some people can not do that and end up breathing through the mouth as well.
    Many babies are not breastfed for long enough. The muscles of swallowing in newborns only start toning up when the baby starts feeding on breast milk. But what about that? Sounds like a simple thing, right? It does seem simple, but it is not!
    It is a huge effort for a newborn to extract breast milk from his/her mother. It is much easier for them to take the bottle. They have no need to suckle strongly, milk flows easily.
    It is for this reason that many doctors (when the mother can not breastfeed) recommend using bottles with nipples with a very small hole. So the milk does not flow easily and the baby tries to suck with an effort.
    And this is how the swallowing muscles (which are lax in newborns) are toned. And at the same time they are tryng hard to suckle they cannot help but breath through their noses and that's how they get their training.

    Perhaps Maximilian had the Hapsburg lower lip, inherited from his real father, Napoléon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte. Archduchess Sophie was heavily pregnant of Maximilian when the Herzog von Reichstadt was dying. Everybody knew the feelings of Her Imperial Highness for this poor young man. And it was mutual.................
    Maximilian's cousin, Napoleon III knew about this. It was he who duped Maximilian. He was afraid that this boy, the grandson of Napoleon I was the real heir to the throne of France.

  2. Where are this portraits actually?

    1. I believe they're in the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City.