Gloriosa Victoria Diego Rivera Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Gloriosa Victoria painting is a presentation of the US invasion on Guatemala then referred to as the ‘Banana Republic.’ Diego uses this mural to stage the CIA’s intervention in the country through the National Liberation Movement, a faction that caused the fall of Jacobo Arbenz’s government.

In the middle stands a dumbfounded John Foster Dullies, shaking hands with Castillo Armas, the new president. Foster clutches a missile, which bears the face of the then US president Dwight D. Eisenhower while Allen Dulles’ brother, the man whispering in Foster’s ear dishes out cash to the underhanded military officers and other people who participated in overthrowing the government.

The other American officials around them include the CIA director, John Peurifoy and Guatemala’s US ambassador. Rivera creates this painting to showcase three events happening at the same time- an overthrown government, ushering in a new president and the moral decay among the leaders. Rivera also includes a silhouette of a tall man dressed in a dark, long robe to depict Guatemala’s arch-conservative Catholic Archbishop called Mariano Rossell Arelano. It is believed his presence during this deal was as a result of a letter he had received, exhorting citizens to support the coup.

Rivera used the characteristic painting style of Italian fresco when he was creating Gloriosa Victoria. Being a member of the Mexican muralist movement and a rather complex individual politically, he used this style to create a vivid description of controversial themes like imperialism, social inequality and industrialization, which affected Mexico. He also used different tones and shapes to emphasise the difference between the characters in the painting.

The American officials are light-skinned compared to the dark-skinned new president and the weary natives at the back of the envoy. The difference in their physical attributes also portrays the racial mobility given to the Guatemalan officials receiving the bribe from the Americans at the expense of the peasants. The painting was an outlaw artwork commissioned by a group of Mexican painters to support the locals, following an invasion by the US government.

At the time, Mexico was in a constant state of revolution and Diego created the paintings to showcase the most native’s desire for improved social services and land reforms. He was also incorporated the rich Mexican heritage and the 20th century Marxism style to develop this piece in a bid to teach the illiterate community about its national history. Gloria Victoria was the last mural Diego ever created.