Adela Breton: Ancient Mexico in Colour

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

6 August 2016 – 14 May 2017

Free to all

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Breton's vibrant watercolours of archaeological sites in Mexico are displayed for the first time since the 1940s.

Adela Breton, Watercolour painting of the stucco facade of the temple on the pyramid at Acanceh

Adela Breton was not a typical Victorian woman. In 1900, aged 50, she left her comfortable life in Bath to embark on a challenging journey across Mexico, seeking to capture its archaeological sites in vivid watercolour.

Over the next 23 years she would make various trips to the ruins – camping out in isolated areas, with little access to food and plagued by the scorching heat – to create new paintings. By the time of her death aged 73, she had produced more than 1,500 works.

Bequeathed to the gallery by Breton, the pictures she made are of great importance for Mesoamerican studies; her copies of the wall paintings in temples and buildings in Chichén Itzá, Teotihuacan and Acancéh are now the only remaining record of what was there in the 1900s.

Owing to the fragility of the watercolours, this display marks their first showing in over 70 years.

Venue information

Opening times

Tues – Sun, 10am – 5pm

Closed from 2pm on 24 Dec. Closed 25 – 26 Dec

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