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The Life of Franz Mayer: The Collector

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When Franz Mayer began to collect art, he focused on the viceregal period, the three centuries when Mexico was ruled by Spain. At a time when most Mexican collectors favored Precolumbian or modern art, Franz Mayer was intrigued by the colonial period.

Collecting brought together his artist's eye, his financial resources, and his delight in making deals. He visited Mexico City's many antique shops and went to a famous flea market called La Lagunilla. He worked with agents around the world to find works for his collection, and purchased art at auction houses in London and New York. Franz Mayer constantly refined his collection, buying works of the highest quality, selling those that did not meet his high standards. His art collection was paralleled by an outstanding library of books on painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. He subscribed to the important art journals of the day.

Franz Mayer lived a very long life, dying in 1975 at the age of 93. He left his collection and his estate in trust at the Bank of Mexico in order to establish a "an art museum in Mexico City." The trustees of his estate were able, most appropriately, to purchase a former hospital building from the colonial period in the central district of Mexico. The Museo Franz Mayer opened in 1995, displaying superb colonial art in an outstanding example of viceregal architecture.



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