More on the Leicester 'Casta' Paintings

January 14 2022

Image of More on the Leicester 'Casta' Paintings

Picture: Leicester Museum & Art Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

Readers might remember last December's story regarding a set of eighteenth-century Mexican 'Casta' paintings from the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery that are at the centre of a new research project. An article in The Guardian had claimed that the pictures had been marked for destruction at some point in the recent past.

I decided to contact the gallery to ask for a little more information regarding the works and what evidence they had for this proposed fate.

Thankfully, a spokesperson from the gallery has kindly replied to my enquiry with the following information:

During their 170 years in Leicester the Casta paintings have not been on public display, they have been subject to trial and test conservation techniques (incomplete), it is assumed that they were used as training aides for the in house conservation studios that the museums had decades ago. They also have white chalk crosses marked on the reverse of their frames, and three of them also have the word DUMP written in unknown handwriting, also in white chalk. Leicester’s fine art collection has never been subjected to a formal collection review but at some point in the past this indicates that these paintings may have been marked for disposal.     

Leicester Museum & Art Gallery is an accredited museum and we would not destroy, nor prepare any of our collection for destruction, we follow the Museum Associations code of ethics for collections disposal. Disposal, in simplified terms, is the process of formally removing an object from a museum’s collection to be donated to another appropriate alternative collection.

Furthermore, the spokesperson has indicated that the upcoming display Casta, the Origin of Caste will run from the 19th of March to the 19th June 2022 at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery.

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