Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park, by Diego Rivera The History of Mexico in a Mural

The Painter

Diego Rivera

The Mexican Painter Diego Riviera
The painting is so big that one has to step back in order to see the complete mural.

Riviera is best known for his murals, which he preferred because they are large scale and publicly accessible and therefore the opposite of what he saw as the elitist nature of paintings in galleries and museums. Rivera painted on the walls of universities and other public buildings throughout Mexico and the United States, creating an extraordinary body of work. In his murals Riviera created panoramic portrayals of Mexican history, culture, and daily life. Because Rivera was also a socially committed artist, his art expressed his commitment to left-wing political causes, depicting such subjects as the Mexican peasantry and revolutionary figures.

The Painting

Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park

In Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park, Diego Rivera revisits the theme of Mexican history, depicting famous people and historical events from three eras: the Conquest (on the left), the Revolution and Independence (in the middle), and the Modern era (on the right). The events depicted (such as the burning of the dead victims of the Inquisition in Cortes' time, the U.S. army's encampment in the park in 1848, and the major political demonstrations of the nineteenth century) are unified both by history and by the fact that they all took place in Mexico City's Alameda Park.

Alameda Park sits in the middle of Mexico City. It was constructed in place of an ancient Aztec market.
Mexico City

The Conquest (to the left)

People: 1) Hernán Cortés 2) Juan de Zumarraga 3) Antonio López de Santa Anna 4) The American General Winfield Scott.

EARLY HISTORY: In 1519 the Spaniard Hernán Cortes sailed from present-day Cuba to Mexico where he discovered the Aztecs and eventually conquered them. The conquest set into motion a convergence of American and European cultures in Mexico which is viewed in many different ways. During the period of colonization that followed the conquest, European ideas were forced onto the native populations, such as the Catholic faith. Riviera saw this negatively, as indicated by the fact that he included Zumarraga in his mural.

Independence and the Revolution (in the center):

People: 5) José Martí 6) Diego Rivera when he was a child 7) Frida Kahlo 8) Calavera Catrina 9) José Guadalupe Posada 10) Porfirio Díaz

INDEPENDENCE (HISTORY): Napoleon’s invasion and occupation of Spain from 1808 to 1813 heightened the revolutionary fervor in Mexico and other Spanish colonies (such as Cuba). On September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo issued a passionate rallying cry known as the “Grito de Dolores” (“Cry of Dolores”) as a declaration of war against the colonial government. The Grito called for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico, the redistribution of land and racial equality. Hidalgo was eventually killed, and others led armies of indigenous and racially mixed revolutionaries against the Spanish royalists. The conflict ended in 1821, when the Treaty of Córdoba established Mexico as an independent constitutional monarchy. Within two years, the emperor was removed and the first Mexican Republic established. Unfortunately, Mexico had a period when the country was under a dictatorship, the most infamous being the rule of Porfirio Diaz from 1884 to 1911 (his rule is known as "the Porfiriato"). Though he ushered in the industrial age and improved the country's infrastructure, he favored the wealthy, ignored the poor, and ruled by force.

The Modern Era (to the right)

People: 11) A Poor Family 12) Juan Sánchez Azcona 13) A Revolutionary Worker 14) A corrupt president corrupto of the republic.

MODERN HISTORY: The fight for independence and the republics that formed in its wake bleed over into the far Right of Riviera's painting, as does the Mexican Revolution of 1910, which was caused by the unjust rule of Porfirio Diaz. The Mexican Revolution lasted ten years and resulted in the death of 2 million. Overall, the far right of the painting depicts modern developments such as industrialization, and modern life.


Diego Riviera: Mexican Painter and Muralist, Social Realism (The Art Story)

Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda

Diego Rivera Paintings, Murals, Biography, Quotes

Struggle for Mexican Independence

Mexico, A Brief History


Created with images by The hills are alive* - "Diego Rivera. Photographer not known."

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