Maxine Albro. “Doña
Rosa / Tehuantepec, Mexico,” c. 1933. Lithograph, 12 x 14
1/4" with exquisite watercolor and gouache applied throughout by
the artist. Titled in pencil, lower left, signed in pencil, lower
right, and inscribed and signed again “from Maxine.”
Maxine Albro (1903–1966) was a painter, muralist, lithographer, and sculptor.
Like many of her
colleagues drawn to the Mexican muralista techniques and the
possibilities of public art, Albro traveled to Mexico frequently and
studied mural painting with Diego Rivera. During the 1930s, she
executed several murals for the Federal Public Works of Art Project.
The semi-urban indigenous Zapotec culture of Mexico’s Isthmus
of Tehuantepec inspired Albro in many media, and Doña Rosa
exemplifies her talents as a colorist and as a printmaker, as well as
her deep understanding of Mexican sensibility.
An exceptional lithograph superbly watercolored by the artist, this is a
unique example of work, obviously a special effort for her friends
Louis and Mildred, to whom it is inscribed. Albro perfectly captures
the traditional dress and furniture, as well as the colorful,
flamboyant, and independent spirit of the Isthmus Zapotecs. Doña
Rosa—monumental, solid, and strong—is making bouquets
from flowers gathered in a jicapexel, or large lacquered
gourd, which were often used as wedding gifts. The low chair, or
Campeche-style chair, and the tiled floor marks Doña
Rosa as a member of the prosperous layer of the society, while her
crisp white underdress, colorful rabona (over skirt) and her
modernized huipil show the traditional dress of the tehuana
The piece is a typically beautiful and subtly arresting portrait by the artist.
Her mastery of lithography deftly approximates the quality of a more
immediate medium. The brightly colored dress and blouse, the gourd
and the flowers are all unmistakably the joyful palette and simple
subject matter of Albro. Stylistically, the composition is serene and
appealing, with the regular geometry and earthy genre scenario
characteristic of Mexican Modernism, which doubtless influenced
Maxine Albro’s sensitive and personal version of the Latin
American graphic tradition. A wonderful print that can almost be
mistaken for a watercolor.