Manuel Alfonso Manilla (Mexican, 1830 - 1895), from 1882 until his departure in 1892, Manilla collaborated with the Mexico City publishing house of Antonio Vanegas Arroyo as an illustrator and engraver. He is credited with making approximately 500 illustrations of such subjects as corridos (songs), scenes of street life, literary characters, bullfighting, circuses and magic, although he is most remembered for his depictions of religious themes and caricatures using calaveras or skeleton images. He was among the first to more widely utilize the now popular calavera caricatures and was mentor to a young José Guadalupe Posda at the Vanegas Arroyo printing house.
José Guadalupe Posada (Mexican 1852 – 1913) joined the publishing house of Antonio Vanegas Arroyo in 1888 as an illustrator and engraver. There he met Manuel Alfonso Manilla and until 1892, the two men shared engraving duties. They worked so closely together, that some works are hard to ascribe definitively to one artist or the other. Posada’s subject matter varied greatly and included political caricatures, advertisements and religious imagery. He is known to have created images for over fifty-two Mexico City based periodicals and his images are numbered in the thousands. One of the most popular subjects, however, are his calaveras, or skeletons. The calaveras were already a part of the strong tradition of Mexican graphic arts, but through the popularity of the broadsides, Posada and Manilla brought the satirical skeletons prominently into the mainstream. His use of traditional imagery and his impact on countless artists of later generations has inspired Posada’s biographers paint him as a gateway from the 19th to the 20th century, a link that had been seen as previously lacking and was enthusiastically reclaimed when he was “rediscovered” by the artists of the Mexican muralist movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Prominent artists such as Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) were greatly influenced by Posada and through their admiration turned him into a folk hero and prompted a posthumous fame for the artist that revived an international interest in his work that continues to this day.
The broadsides produced by the Arroyo publishing house were loose sheets that covered a variety of human interest events such as love stories, murders, suicides, bullfight gorings, infamous criminals and folklore heroes. Topical, brightly colored and quickly produced, they can be seen as more of a people’s history that addressed popular culture issues of the day filled in the gaps between larger historical and political events.
All restrikes come from the Posada Arts Foundation and were printed from the original plates by master printer Phil Sanders at New World Press.