Miera y Pacheco
A Renaissance Spaniard in Eighteenth-Century New Mexico
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
218 Pages | 6 x 9 | 80 b&w illus., 1 map
In Miera y Pacheco, John L. Kessell explores each aspect of this Renaissance man’s life in the colony. Beginning with his marriage to the young descendant of a once-prominent New Mexican family, we see Miera transformed by his varied experiences into the quintessential Hispanic New Mexican. As he traveled to every corner of the colony and beyond, Miera gathered not only geographical, social, and political data but also invaluable information about the Southwest’s indigenous peoples. At the same time, Miera the artist was carving and painting statues and panels of the saints for the altar screens of the colony.
Miera’s most ambitious surviving map resulted from his five-month ordeal as cartographer on the Domínguez-Escalante expedition to the Great Basin in 1776. Two years later, with the arrival of famed Juan Bautista de Anza as governor of New Mexico, Miera became a trusted member of Anza’s inner circle, advising him on civil, military, and Indian affairs.
Miera’s maps and his religious art, represented here, have long been considered essential to the cultural history of colonial New Mexico. Now Kessell’s biography tells the rest of the story. Anyone with an interest in southwestern history, colonial New Mexico, or New Spain will welcome this study of Miera y Pacheco’s eventful life and times.
“In Miera y Pacheco, master narrative historian John L. Kessell reveals the multiple careers of don Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, cartographer, artist, and keen observer of eighteenth-century New Mexico. This is a long-overdue biography, and it is essential reading for understanding an extraordinarily gifted man who led a remarkable life in the late Spanish colonial period.”—Richard Flint, author of No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada