Querétaro: “Tomb of empires, the cradle of constitutions”


Querétaro represents that symbolic space that has embodied the great feats that constitute us as a nation. It is the place where the War of Independence was forged with the so-called “conspiracies of Querétaro”, disguised as literary gatherings in which Mrs. Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, the wife of the magistrate of Letters Miguel Domínguez, the Queretans Epigmenio and Emeterio González participated, as well like Allende and Aldama.

During the War with the United States (1846-1848), when the invading army had taken the capital of the Republic, this city served as the headquarters of the Federal powers for eight months, so the Treaty of Guadalupe was signed and ratified here. -Hidalgo who put an end to hostilities in exchange for giving the neighboring northern country more than half of the Mexican territory (two and a half million square kilometers).

In June 1867, the Cerro de las Campanas became the tomb of the Second Empire represented by the Austrian archduke imposed by the bayonets of the French Intervention, Maximilian of Habsburg, who fell to the republican bullets together with his artillery generals Miguel Miramón and Tomás Mejía cavalry. This event led to the Restoration of the Republic.

In the Iturbide Theater of this city (today Theater of the Republic) – there where Maximiliano, Miramón, and Mejía had been tried and sentenced to the death penalty – half a century later the federal pact that put an end to the Mexican Revolution was signed with the drafting and promulgation of the Constitution that governs us today, that of 1917. This enclosure also saw the birth of the National Revolutionary Party (PNR) in 1929. With the founding of the PNR, President Plutarco Elías Calles tried to end the only way they had the caudillos to gain power: that of arms. In 1936, during the mandate of General Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, the Theater of the Republic also witnessed the establishment of the Six-Year Plan for the presidency of the Republic.  

It was right in that area where Don Venustiano Carranza when promulgating the Constitution of 1917, coined the phrase that masterfully synthesizes Querétaro as a bulwark of national history: “Querétaro: tomb of empires, the cradle of constitutions”.

Esteban Galván (1927-1999), visual chronicler from Queretaro

Esteban Galván (1927-1999), visual chronicler from Queretaro
La Herradura, Queretaro pilgrims to the Basilica of Guadalupe. 
(Esteban Galván Rivera, 1946)

Querétaro has been lavish in artists, however, the vast majority have only achieved local prestige. The lack of reflection, criticism, and study has contributed to the fact that a good part of his works is irretrievably lost. A good part of the studies carried out has focused on works from the colonial period, privileging architecture and painting. The twentieth-century Queretaro art remains practically ignored. That is why in the country they are not known and, therefore, the contributions of Queretaro are not valued. This lack of recognition has allowed the art of Quereta to remain largely unprotected and at risk of future generations not knowing, enjoying, and preserving it.

In the case of Queretaro photography, there are very few academic works. The study of the work of Don Esteban Galván has the purpose of contributing to the history of contemporary Mexican and Queretaro culture. Don Esteban was one of the most important Queretaro photographers, he died on July 13, 1999, at the age of 72. Death came when we were working on his book, I proposed to tell him the story of his life and a retrospective of his photographic work of more than 50 years. Here a small part of the interview is reproduced – edited by me – with which I would start the text.

In his own voice

I was born in 1927 here in Querétaro, in the La Cruz neighborhood. My father, Salvador Galván Sánchez, was a teacher in plastic arts, sculpture, and painting. My mother, Josefina Rivera Valdelamar, dedicated herself to the musical question, she also painted in oil and embossed on leather and sheet, both of them were very artists.

I remember that my first studies were at home with my dad. At that time, Querétaro was going through a very sad time, the temples were closed, it was when Governor Saturnino Osornio closed El Colegio Civil.

My dad wanted me to be a priest, so after elementary school, I entered the Conciliar Seminary of Querétaro. I was hospitalized for two years, I was about 10 or 12 years old, my dad was very disappointed. I did not have a vocation as a priest and I left.

My father believed that I could be a sculptor because he saw it with great interest when he made sculpture and he put me to study with a sculptor who was in the temple of the Congregation, I learned it, but it was not my vocation. My father also wanted me to be a musician and he put me in the Conservatory, but I didn’t continue. I had no record. That was what struck my dad that everything started and nothing ended. My dad, disappointed in me, asked me what I wanted to do. I chose to study and work. I studied at a school called Centro Cultural Obrero, it was a night high school for workers. To work I chose the printing press.

Mr. Gonzalo Durán was the manager in charge of the Guadalupana Printing House. Everything that was printed caught my attention. I was in the best workshop in Querétaro and there I developed a lot. At that time my vocation for photography was born. When I was 18 years old, I went on a pilgrimage and my colleagues carried me a camera and I started taking photos. There was an image that made a great impression on me, I saw it as a horseshoe that was formed on the hill before reaching Tepeji del Río, it was a horseshoe formed by the column of pilgrims and I took it. When Mr. De la Isla, owner of the newspaper, saw that photo, he asked me to borrow it and put it on the front page of Tribuna, the most prestigious weekly in Querétaro, with the caption: “Esteban Galván’s photo”, and that’s where everything was born.

Source: noticiasdequeretaro.com.mx

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