500 years have passed since the defeat suffered by the Castilian soldiers of Hernan Cortes and his allies at the hands of the Mexica army, on the outskirts of Tenochtitlan, today Mexico City. Event known as The sad night.
This event, despite its importance, is one of the least reproduced in art history, on both sides of the ocean. The sad night of Hernán Cortés It focuses on the moment when that night in 1520, the Spanish conqueror’s army had to flee from Tenochtitlan before the strong offensive of the original peoples.
In the work, Cortés is shown desolate after the defeat, leaning on a rock and at the foot of the ahuehuete, also called Montezuma cypress, under which they say he hid to cry in secret. He is accompanied by Malinche, behind him, his lover and translator, and one of his soldiers. In the background, his troops await the moment when Cortés joins in to continue retreating.
The sad night of Hernán Cortés was made by the artist Manuel Ramírez Ibáñez in 1890 and recreates that defeat. According to the Badajoz Museum of Fine Arts (MUBA), where the piece is located, the work would have been made from different historical chronicles such as General History of the Indies of Francisco López de Gomara from 1552, True story of the Conquest of New Spain, of Bernal Díaz del Castillo from 1632, and The history of the conquest of Mexico‘ of Antonio de Solís (1684).
Ramírez Ibáñez (Arjona, Jaén, 1856) studied in Madrid and Rome and much of his work is focused on events that took place in America. Other featured pieces with similar themes are Death of Francisco Pizarro, for which in 1878 he obtained a second medal at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts and The Battle of Otumba, from 1887, both owned by the Prado Museum.