Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico

SEE Detail of Head



Miguel Norena (b. Mexico City 1843-d. Mexico City 1894)

Cuauhtemoc, 1886


Miguel Norena studied with Manual Vilar at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City and exhibited for the first time in 1856. In 1873, after five years study in Europe, Norena became director of sculpture at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City where his notable students were Jesus Fructuoso Contreras and Gabriel Guerra. Norena became widely known as a sculptor of public statues, most notably the Cuauhtemoc monument and the renowned Juarez Seated which was cast from melted down cannons (1891, Mexico City, Recinto Homenaje Don Benito Juarez).


Bronze (with dark olive green patina)  Unique. No known edition

32 ½ inches high x 18 inches wide x 9 inches deep



Jesus Fructuoso Contreras (b. Aguascalientes, Mex. 1866-d. Mexico City 1902)

By direct descent in the family of Jesus F. Contreras

Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, NM , 2003 (here first researched, attributed, and authenticated by Fred R. Kline).

Private Collection, Texas



Fred R. Kline Gallery.  "Miguel Norena: The Cuauhtemoc Modello Discovered". Summer & Fall 2004



"Miguel Norena, Cuauhtemoc, 1886" : from 2004


Historical Note

This is the original bronze modello for Miguel Norena’s renowned monument to the last Aztec emperor Cuauhtemoc, unveiled in 1887 on Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City where it still stands. Cuauhtemoc reigns as a symbol of Mexico City comparable to London’s Eros, Paris’s Eiffel Tower, and New York’s Statue of Liberty.

The modern history of Mexico’s innumerable monuments begins with the decree enacted by President Porfirio Diaz in 1877 stipulating that a series of statues of Mexican heroes be placed all along the Paseo de Reforma. The monument to Cuauhtemoc was the first to be erected and became the first major monument of independent Mexico, fittingly dedicated to the last Aztec prince to fight the Spaniards. It represented a vindication of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past and a clear rejection of the Spanish Colonial period (1524-1810), often described as a “dark medieval era”.

Norena’s former student Jesus Fructuoso Contreras collaborated with him in 1886-7 on the casting and patinas of the bronze statues for the Cuauhtemoc monument, which included the monumental one as well as the small bronze modello described herein. The dark olive green patina on the Contreras Cuauhtemoc was the patina chosen by Norena for the monument.

Jesus Contreras became one of Mexico’s foremost sculptor-entrepreneurs, establishing the Taller de Fundicion Artistica Mexicana in 1892 with financial support from President Porfirio Diaz. Contreras executed a famous series of 20 public monuments along the Reforma in the 1890s, bronze statues of illustrious figures from Mexico’s post 1810 period of Independence. Many of the statues still stand on Paseo de Reforma and elsewhere in Mexico City.


Grove Art Dictionary: entries on Norena (by Eloisa Uribe) and Contreras (by Fausto Ramirez), ca.1997.

B.Wendy Coss y Leon, ed. Historia del Paseo de la Reforma. Bellas Artes, Mex.DF. 1994.

Jesus F. Contreras, 1866-1902: Escultor Finisecular. Bellas Artes. Mex.DF.1990

H. Escobedo and P. Gori, eds. Mexican Monuments: Strange Encounters. Abbeville, New York. 1989.

      Sold to a distinguished Texas private collection