Back to the William R. Talbot Home Page.  Back to the Prints Page.
  Maxine Albro. “Doña Rosa / Tehuantepec, Mexico,” c. 1933.  
Albro Dona Rosa
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 matron.

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.


Copyright 2003, William R. Talbot