José Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza was a renowned Mexican artist in Louisiana in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries who was sought after for portraits of prominent or wealthy Louisianans. Most of his work that survived his move to New Orleans in 1782 was lost or damaged in 1788, in a fire that destroyed most of the French Quarter. But demand for Salazar’s portraits over the next two decades provides an enormous visual record of his reputation and talent.
This nearly life-size portrait of Clara de La Motte, which hangs in THNOC’s History Galleries, was painted in New Orleans in 1795, after the death of La Motte’s first husband, Benjamin Monsanto. The Jewish couple had been married in New Orleans, where Monsanto’s brothers lived. The exquisite portrait, which was sold out of the country and rediscovered in the 1960s, is a typical representation of Salazar’s style. He dressed de la Motte in a blue gown featuring lace trim, set against a dark background. She is wearing gold jewelry, has her hair in bouffant style, and holds a sprig of grain in one hand while a bird is perched on the other.
Citation 1: 
ca. 1795; oil on canvas
Citation 2: 
by José Francisco Xavier de Salazar y Mendoza
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Valeria Rodriguez, student, International High School