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Casa del Dean 16th Century Civil Murals will Undergo Restoration

MEXICO CITY.- Four hundred year old mural paintings that decorate 2 halls at Casa del Dean, in Puebla Historical Center, will undergo integral restoration conducted by specialists from National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Humidity problems and consolidation of pictorial layers will be attended, with a 1.5 million MXP inversion. Alfonso de Maria y Campos, INAH general director, informed resources are part of a Bicentennial of Independence of Mexico celebrations special fund. “The aim is to recover the splendor of this 16th century work of great artistic and historical relevance for future generations, so restoration will be reinforced with new museography that will improve information provided to visitors”.

Casa del Dean is a small precinct in custody of INAH, and is the first civil construction built during the first century of Puebla City. It was named after Dean Tomas de la Plaza, who bought it and gave it the features that would later be identified as Colonial Puebla residence.

Frescoes on walls at the second floor represent the most valuable cultural heritage of the property, because they are the only civil (not religious) mural paintings registered in Mexico with such antiquity (400 years). They were painted with vegetal and mineral pigments, and the technique is yet to be defined.

Paintings were discovered in 1955, when the only house that was not demolished by its ancient owners was undergoing architectonic restoration. Supposedly, the residence built in the second half of 16th century had an approximate surface of 1,700 square meters, a main yard, stables, numerous rooms and an orchard.

Victor Hugo Valencia Valera, director of Puebla INAH Center, declared that the paintings present deterioration in pictorial layers’ fixation, as well as humidity affectations. “Their good conservation state is due to lime-based painting layers that covered and protected them”.

The anonymous artwork is part of the few examples of 16th century civil painting in the country. It is believed that they were created by indigenous hands, due to presence of pictographic elements such as textiles, animals, plants and tools.

The first hall mural is known as La Sibilina, because sibyls are represented. Eleven of these characters of Roman mythology ride horses dressed in 16th century fashion.

The room called “Hall of Triumphs” has a painting related to the 14th century Italian humanist Petrarch work “Triumphs”. Concepts like love, death, fame and time are recreated here.

Casa del Dean was finished in 1580; it belonged to the priest Tomas de la Plaza, Dean of Puebla from 1564 to late 16th century. Being one of the oldest buildings in the city, it is located in 505 16 de Septiembre Street, Historical Center.

Visiting hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:30 hours. Admission fee is 29 MXP, but children under 13, senior citizens, teachers and students with valid ID do not pay. On Sundays Mexicans and residents’ entrance is free.

National Institute of Anthropology and History | Alfonso de Maria y Campos | Bicentennial | Puebla | Casa del Dean |

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