Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


The Modern Era

1789 - 1914

In Europe, the revolutionary transformation of the ruling systems and state structures began with a bang: In 1789 the French Revolution broke out in Paris, and its motto "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"—Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood—took on an irrepressible force. A fundamental reorganization of society followed the French Revolution. The ideas behind the revolution were manifest in Napoleon's Code Civil, which he imposed on many European nations. The 19th century also experienced a transformation of society from another source: The Industrial Revolution established within society a poorer working class that stood in opposition to the merchant and trading middle class. The nascent United States was shaken by an embittered civil war. The economic growth that set in following that war was accompanied by the development of imperialist endeavors and its rise to the status of a Great Power.



Liberty Leading the People,
allegory of the 1830 July revolution that deposed the French monarchy,
with Marianne as the personification of liberty,
contemporary painting by Eugene Delacroix.



Latin America



When Napoleon occupied the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Latin America saw the defeat of the European metropoles as an opportunity for self-determination. In the next two decades, most of the South American states were able to gain independence under the leadership of the native Creoles—the descendents of Spanish colonists. Brazil was the only country to free itself from its motherland without military battles, however. Civil wars and internal political struggles shaped events in most of the states of Latin America for a long time after independence. The political organization of the states alternated between 1 monarchies, dictatorships, and republics.


Mexico in the 19th Century

Mexico won its fight for independence. Under alternating monarchies and republics, the gradual liberalization and development of the economy took place.


In New Spain (Mexico), the demand for independence and self-determination grew as it did in the rest of Spanish America. In 1810 a village priest, Miguel Hidalgo ó Costilla. called upon the people to fight the Spaniards. The declaration of independence was proclaimed in 1813 and a republican constitution decreed. The country did not officially become independent, however, until the military leader of the Creoles.

Agustin de Iturbide, allied with the leader of the rebellion, Vicente Guerrero, and proclaimed a monarchy in 1821.

The Creole upper class and the higher clergy had joined with Guerrero to prevent the acceptance of a liberal Spanish constitution.

Iturbide reigned for a short period as Emperor Agustin I of Mexico, until he was toppled by 2 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in 1823.

A republican and federal constitution was adopted in 1824. and Guadalupe Victoria was elected president. The young republic was divided by conflicts between the proponents of a centralized state and those of a federalist system. Victoria was ousted by Santa Anna in 1833, who long maintained influence over politics in the country. The United States of Central America, which included most of the present Central American countries, seceded from the republic of Mexico in 1838-1839.

After a war against the US, Mexico was forced to cede its territory north of the Rio Grande in 1848. The US also intervened in its internal politics, supporting the liberal Benito Juarez against conservatives. As president, Juarez had plans to develop the country and sought to default on interest payments to foreign lenders. Upon
hearing this, the countries concerned—Great Britain, Spain, and France—invaded Mexico City in 1863 and appointed the Austrian archduke Maximilian as emperor.

However, Juarez reconquered the country and had 3 Maxmilian shot in 1867 under martial law.

Through a coup d'etat, the liberal General 4 Porfirio Diaz came to power in 1876 and furthered internal peace and economic development.

1 Agustin de Iturbide, 2 Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, 3 Emperor Maximilian, 4 Porfirio Diaz


4 Execution of the Emperor Maximilian, painting by Edouard Manet, 1868-69

see also: Manet Edouard


Under his government, the resentment of the landless peasants exploded in the  Mexican Revolution of 1910 under the leadership of Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Villa, and Venustiano Carranza.

Following the revolution's success, Carranza became president of Mexico and adopted a liberal constitution in 1917.



Emiliano Zapata, Francisco Villa, Venustiano Carranza

The Mexican Revolution

After the reelection of Diaz, a revolution led by politicians broke out in 1910. Before long, however, this developed into an uprising of the peasants (campesinos) who had lost property due to Diaz's policies.

In the south they fought under
Zapata for the recovery of their lands; in the north under Villa, they fought for the independence of small agricultural undertakings.

After a number of conflicts among the leaders,
Carranza defeated the others and installed himself as president. In office he enacted agrarian reforms.



Jose Orozco

and the Mexican Revolution

Diego Rivera

and the Mexican Revolution

David Siqueiros
and the Mexican Revolution



Mexican Revolution

(1910–20), a long and bloody struggle among several factions in constantly shifting alliances which resulted ultimately in the end of the 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a constitutional republic. The revolution began against a background of widespread dissatisfaction with the elitist and oligarchical policies of Porfirio Díaz that favoured wealthy landowners and industrialists. When Díaz in 1908 said that he welcomed the democratization of Mexican political life and appeared ambivalent about running for his seventh reelection as president in 1910, Francisco Madero emerged as the leader of the Antireeleccionistas and announced his candidacy. Díaz had him arrested and declared himself winner after a mock election in June, but Madero, released from prison, published his Plan de San Luis Potosí from San Antonio, Texas, calling for a revolt on November 20. The revolt was a failure, but it kindled revolutionary hope in many quarters. In the north, Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa mobilized their ragged armies and began raiding government garrisons. In the south, Emiliano Zapata waged a bloody campaign against the local caciques (rural political bosses). In the spring of 1911 the revolutionary forces took Ciudad Juárez, forced Díaz to resign, and declared Madero president.

Madero’s regime faltered from the start. Zapata turned against him, angered at his failure to effect the immediate restoration of land to dispossessed Indians. Orozco, initially a supporter of Madero, was also dissatisfied with the slow pace of reform under the new government and led a revolutionary movement in the north. The U.S. government then turned against Madero as well, fearing that the new president was too conciliatory to the rebel groups and concerned about the threat that civil war in Mexico was posing to American business interests there. Tensions reached a peak when yet another faction of rebel forces, led by Félix Díaz (the former dictator’s nephew), clashed with federal troops in Mexico City under the command of Victoriano Huerta. On February 18, 1913, after the ninth day of that melee (known as La Decena Trágica, or “The Ten Tragic Days”), Huerta and Díaz met in the office of U.S. Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson and signed the so-called “Pact of the Embassy,” in which they agreed to conspire against Madero and to install Huerta as president. Huerta assumed the presidency the following day, after arresting Madero, who was assassinated a few days later.

Opposition to Huerta’s drunken and despotic rule grew in the north, and an uneasy alliance was formed between Pancho Villa, Álvaro Obregón, and Venustiano Carranza, whose Plan de Guadalupe called for Huerta’s resignation. In the spring and summer of 1914, the rebel forces converged on Mexico City, forcing Huerta into exile. Carranza declared himself president on August 20, over Villa’s objections. A state of anarchy and bloodshed ensued until Villa, Obregón, and Zapata held a convention at which it was agreed that the rivalry between Villa and Carranza made order impossible, and they elected Eulalio Gutiérrez interim president. Villa retained the support of Zapata and backed Gutiérrez. Obregón, however, re-allied himself with Carranza and routed Villa in a bloody battle in April 1915 at Celaya. Thereafter, both Zapata and Villa lost ground, and Villa, blaming his defeat on U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s support of Carranza, launched a vendetta against Americans in Mexico and in U.S. border towns. He executed about 17 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel in January 1916; and his raid on Columbus, New Mexico, two months later, which claimed the lives of some 17 Americans, prompted President Woodrow Wilson to order General John J. Pershing into the Mexican hills in futile pursuit.

Carranza, president again, presided over the writing of the Constitution of 1917, which conferred dictatorial powers on the president but gave the government the right to confiscate land from wealthy landowners, guaranteed workers’ rights, and limited the rights of the Roman Catholic church. Carranza remained in power by eliminating those who opposed him (Zapata was assassinated in 1919), but in 1920 opposition reached a climax when he tried to break up a railroad strike in Sonora. Deserted by virtually all his supporters, including Obregón, he was killed attempting to flee the capital on May 21. Adolfo de la Huerta became interim president until Obregón was elected in November.

Many historians regard 1920 as the end of the revolution, but sporadic violence and clashes between federal troops and various rebel forces continued until the reformist president, Lázaro Cárdenas, took office in 1934 and institutionalized the reforms that were fought for during the revolution and were legitimized in the Constitution of 1917.

Encyclopaedia Britannica



Emiliano Zapata

Emiliano Zapata

+1 Mexican revolutionary

born August 8, 1879, Anenecuilco, Mexico
died April 10, 1919, Morelos

Mexican revolutionary, champion of agrarianism, who fought in guerrilla actions during and after the Mexican Revolution (1910–20).

Early career
Zapata was the son of a mestizo peasant who trained and sold horses. He was orphaned at the age of 17 and had to look after his brothers and sisters. In 1897 he was arrested because he took part in a protest by the peasants of his village against the hacienda that had appropriated their lands. After obtaining a pardon, he continued agitation among the peasants, and so he was drafted into the army. He served for six months, at which point he was discharged to a landowner to train his horses. In 1909 his neighbours elected him president of the board of defense for their village. After useless negotiations with the landowners, Zapata and a group of peasants occupied by force the land that had been appropriated by the haciendas and distributed it among themselves.

Francisco Madero, a landowner of the north, had lost the elections in 1910 to the dictator Porfirio Díaz and had fled to the United States, where he proclaimed himself president and then reentered Mexico, aided by many peasant guerrillas. Zapata and his friends decided to support Madero. In March 1911 Zapata’s tiny force took the city of Cuautla and closed the road to the capital, Mexico City. A week later Díaz resigned and left for Europe, appointing a provisional president. Zapata, with 5,000 men, entered Cuernavaca, capital of the state of Morelos.

Madero entered Mexico City in triumph. Zapata met Madero there and asked him to exert pressure on the provisional president to return the land to the ejidos (the former Indian communal system of landownership). Madero insisted on the disarmament of the guerrillas and offered Zapata a recompense so that he could buy land, an offer that Zapata rejected. Zapata began to disarm his forces but stopped when the provisional president sent the army against the guerrillas.

The Plan of Ayala
Madero was elected president in November 1911, and Zapata met with him again but without success. With the help of a teacher, Otilio Montaño, Zapata prepared the Plan of Ayala, which declared Madero incapable of fulfilling the goals of the revolution. The signers renewed the revolution and promised to appoint a provisional president until there could be elections. They also vowed to return the stolen land to the ejidos by expropriating, with payment, a third of the area of the haciendas; those haciendas that refused to accept this plan would have their lands expropriated without compensation. Zapata adopted the slogan “Tierra y Libertad” (“Land and Liberty”).

In the course of his campaigns, Zapata distributed lands taken from the haciendas, which he frequently burned without compensation. He often ordered executions and expropriations, and his forces did not always abide by the laws of war. But underneath his picturesque appearance—drooping moustache, cold eyes, big sombrero—was a passionate man with simple ideals that he tried to put into practice. The Zapatistas avoided battle by adopting guerrilla tactics. They farmed their land with rifles on their shoulders, went when called to fight, and returned to their plows at the end of a battle or skirmish. Sometimes Zapata assembled thousands of men; he paid them by imposing taxes on the provincial cities and extorting from the rich. Their arms were captured from federal troops.

When General Victoriano Huerta deposed and assassinated Madero in February 1913, Zapata and his men arrived at the outskirts of Mexico City and rejected Huerta’s offer to unite with him. This prevented Huerta from sending all his troops against the guerrillas of the north, who, under the direction of a moderate politician, Venustiano Carranza, had organized the Constitutionalist Army to defeat the new dictator. Huerta was forced to abandon the country in July 1914.

Zapata knew that Carranza’s Constitutionalists feared him. He attracted some intellectuals from Mexico City, among them Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama, who became his theorist and later established an agrarian party. When Huerta fell, Zapata invited the Constitutionalists to accept his Plan of Ayala and warned them that he would continue fighting independently until the plan was put to practical use.

In October 1914 Carranza called an assembly of all the revolutionary forces. Pancho Villa, who commanded the most important part of the army of the north, refused to attend the meeting because he considered Mexico City as enemy ground. The assembly was moved to Aguascalientes, where both the Villistas and the Zapatistas attended. These two groups constituted a majority, and the convention agreed to appoint General Eulalio Gutiérrez as provisional president. Carranza rejected this decision and marched with his government to Veracruz.

War broke out between the moderates (Carrancistas) and the revolutionaries (Conventionists). On November 24 Zapata ordered his army (now called the Liberation Army of the South and numbering 25,000 men) to occupy Mexico City. The people of the capital watched in astonishment as the peasants went from door to door humbly asking for food and drink, instead of assaulting palaces and violating women.

Two weeks later Zapata and Villa met on the outskirts of the capital and then visited the National Palace. The two leaders promised to fight together until they put a civilian president in the palace, and Villa accepted the Plan of Ayala.

Agrarian reforms
Zapata created agrarian commissions to distribute the land; he spent much time supervising their work to be sure they showed no favouritism and that the landowners did not corrupt its members. He established a Rural Loan Bank, the country’s first agricultural credit organization; he also tried to reorganize the sugar industry of Morelos into cooperatives. In April 1915 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s personal representative in Mexico met with Zapata; Zapata asked that Wilson receive his delegation, but Wilson had recognized the Carranza government (the convention’s government under Gutiérrez had dispersed).

Meanwhile, the war continued. Zapata occupied the city of Puebla and won various battles, advised by some professional soldiers who had joined his side. In 1917 Carranza’s generals defeated Villa and isolated Zapata. Carranza then called together a constitutional convention but did not invite Zapata; the convention approved and passed a constitution and elected Carranza as president of the republic.

A new U.S. envoy, William Gates, visited Zapata and then published a series of articles in the United States; he contrasted the order of the Zapata-controlled zone with the chaos of the constitutional zone and said that “the true social revolution can be found among the Zapatistas.” When these articles were read to Zapata, he said, “Now I can die in peace. Finally they have done us justice.”

Soon afterward General Pablo González, who directed the government operations against Zapata, had Colonel Jesús Guajardo pretend to want to join the agrarians and contrive a secret meeting with Zapata at the hacienda of Chinameca in Morelos. There Zapata was ambushed and shot to death by Carrancista soldiers. His body was carried to Cuautla and buried there.

Victor Alba

Encyclopaedia Britannica



Pancho Villa

Pancho Villa

Mexican revolutionary
byname of Francisco Villa, original name Doroteo Arango

born June 5, 1878, Hacienda de Río Grande, San Juan del Río, Mexico
died June 20, 1923, Parral

Mexican revolutionary and guerrilla leader, who fought against the regimes of both Porfirio Díaz and Victoriano Huerta and after 1914 engaged in civil war and banditry.

Villa was the son of a field labourer and was orphaned at an early age. In revenge for an assault on his sister, he killed one of the owners of the estate on which he worked and was afterward forced to flee to the mountains, where he spent his adolescence as a fugitive.

In 1909 Villa joined Francisco Madero’s uprising against the dictator of Mexico, Porfirio Díaz. During the rebellion, Villa, who lacked a formal education but had learned to read and write, displayed his talents as soldier and organizer. Combined with his intimate knowledge of the land and the people of northern Mexico, these gifts enabled him to place at Madero’s disposal a division of trained soldiers under his command. After the success of the revolution, Villa remained in the irregular army.

In 1912, during the rebellion of Pascual Orozco, Villa aroused the suspicion of General Victoriano Huerta, who condemned him to death, but Madero ordered a stay of execution and sent Villa to prison instead. Villa escaped from prison in November and fled to the United States. After Madero’s assassination in 1913, Villa returned to Mexico and formed a military band of several thousand men that became known as the famous División del Norte (Division of the North). Combining his force with that of Venustiano Carranza, Villa revolted against the increasingly repressive and inefficient dictatorship of Huerta, once again revealing his military talents by winning several victories. In December 1913 Villa became governor of the state of Chihuahua and with Carranza won a decisive victory over Huerta in June 1914. Together they entered Mexico City as the victorious leaders of a revolution.

Rivalry between Villa and Carranza, however, soon led to a break between the two, and Villa was forced to flee Mexico City with the revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata in December 1914. Badly defeated by Carranza in a series of battles, he and Zapata fled to the mountains of the north. But in order to demonstrate that Carranza did not control northern Mexico, Villa executed some 17 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel in January 1916 and two months later attacked Columbus, New Mexico, killing about 17 Americans. President Woodrow Wilson then sent an expedition under General John J. Pershing to that area, but, because of Villa’s popularity and intimate acquaintance with the terrain of northern Mexico and because of the Mexican government’s dislike of Pershing’s presence on Mexican soil, it proved impossible to capture Villa.

Villa continued his guerrilla activities as long as Carranza remained in power. After the overthrow of Carranza’s government in 1920, Villa was granted a pardon and a ranch near Parral, Chihuahua, in return for agreeing to retire from politics. Three years later he was assassinated on his ranch.

Encyclopaedia Britannica



Venustiano Carranza

Venustiano Carranza

president of Mexico

born December 29, 1859, Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico
died May 20/21, 1920, Tlaxcalantongo

a leader in the Mexican civil war following the overthrow of the dictator Porfirio Díaz. He became the first president of the new Mexican Republic. A moderate who was tainted by his association with Díaz and his alliance with newer forces of economic exploitation, Carranza opposed the sweeping changes that followed the revolution.

The son of a landowner, Carranza became active in local and state politics in 1877. In 1910, as governor of Coahuila, he joined the struggle of Francisco Madero against Díaz and in 1913 led the forces against Victoriano Huerta, who had assassinated Madero. After Huerta fled in 1914, Carranza’s Constitutionalist Army began to splinter. Rebels under the leadership of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata opposed his provisional government, demanding immediate social reforms. He secured his position as provisional president, however, when his army, led by General Alvaro Obregón, defeated the forces of Villa at Celaya in April 1915.

Carranza favoured political, but not social, reform. Only reluctantly did he accept the provisions of the 1917 constitution establishing basic reforms in landownership, control of natural resources, and labour and social legislation. When he became the constitutional president on May 1, 1917, he did little to effectuate those provisions. His term was marked by continued difficulties with Villa and Zapata, serious financial problems, and general social unrest brought on by his reluctance to institute far-reaching reforms.

Carranza was an ardent nationalist and was involved in serious controversies with the United States. Earlier (April 1914) he had opposed the U.S. occupation of Veracruz, even though it was aimed at his enemy, Huerta; in March 1916 he had prevented the military expedition led by the U.S. general John J. Pershing from capturing Villa, who had raided Columbus, New Mexico; and he angered the United States by his efforts (1918) to bring his country’s oil industry under Mexican control. He was instrumental in keeping Mexico neutral in World War I.

When Carranza’s term as president was due to end in December 1920, he attempted to force the election of his chosen successor, Ignacio Bonillas, despite opposition from his more radical generals. Obregón led an armed rebellion in April 1920, and Carranza fled the capital. When he headed for Veracruz with government records and treasure, his train was attacked. With a few followers, he fled on horseback into the mountains. On the night of May 20/21 he was betrayed and murdered.

Encyclopaedia Britannica



Brazil in the 19th Century

Brazil was the only country of Latin America to gain its independence peacefully, separating from Portugal in 1822.


At the beginning of the 19th century, Brazil was the place of refuge for the Portuguese king John VI, under British naval escort, after he had been expelled by Napoleon.

He made Rio de Janeiro the capital of the Portuguese kingdom.

Rio was opened to international trade. Ministries and many other organs of government were established. Rio saw the construction of hospitals, theaters, libraries, naval and military academies, and a school of medicine.

After the Congress of Vienna, 5 John VI returned to Europe in 1821 to rule in Lisbon, while his son 6 Pedro I remained behind as regent.

However, Pedro resisted the plans of Portugal's parliament to turn Brazil into a colony once again and put himself at the head of the Brazilian independence movement. This was influenced by autonomist movements and liberal ideas from all over the Continent.

On September 7, 1822, he declared independence on the banks of the River Iparanga in Sao Paulo and in the same year was crowned Pedro I, emperor of Brazil.

He was a constitutional monarch. After a campaign against Portuguese forces, in which a British admiral, Lord Cochrane, commanded the newly-formed Brazilian fleet, the Portuguese were forced to evacuate Bahia and in 1825 Portugal recognized Brazil's independence.

After a war with Argentina between 1825 and 1827, Brazil lost the province north of Rio de La Plata—later Uruguay—in the Peace of Montevideo in 1828. This external failure, as well as conflicts with the parliament and the leading social classes, forced Pedro I to abdicate in 1851.

Under the liberal government of 7 Pedro II after 1840. the country stabilized.

5 John VI, 6 Pedro I, 7 Pedro II

The economy developed well, with a high rate of European immigration and the growth of 8 coffee fanning, particularly in the south of Brazil.

The biggest internal problem was 9 slavery.

8 Coffee farming in Brazil

9 A slave being whipped in Brazil, by  Jean-Baptiste Debret



10 Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca

When an influential group of opponents demanded its abolition, Pedro II outlawed it in 1888, but without compensating the slave owners. He thereby drove this powerful group into the republican camp.

After an uprising by the garrison of Rio de Janeiro in 1889, under General  10 Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca in 1889, Brazil became a republic. Fonseca ensured he was the first president.

In 1891, an assembly decided on a new constitution for the United States of Brazil. Fonseca was deposed the same year by Floriano Peixotos, and a series of dictators followed. Up until the First World War. the territory of Brazil expanded due to treaties made with neighboring states. During the course of the war, industrialization began as new markets opened and the country's infrastructure was strengthened.



Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy