6 August—14 May 2017

Adela Breton: Ancient Mexico in Colour

This exhibition has now finished.

The remarkable Adela Breton (1849-1923) worked at archaeological sites in Mexico making full-size colour copies of ancient Mexican ruins.

Her copies of the wall paintings in temples and buildings in Chichén Itzá, Teotihuacan and Acancéh are now the only full record of what was there in the 1900s and allow today’s academics to interpret the images and the history they show. They are recognised as of great importance for Mesoamerican studies.

For the first time since the 1940s, the large watercolours will be on display as a celebration of Adela Breton, her art and the art of ancient Mexico.

Born in London, lived in Bath, worked in Mexico, travelled the world, died in Barbados – Miss Adela Catherine Breton was not today’s idea of a typical Victorian woman. In 1892, she went to Mexico for the first time. With her guide, Pablo Solorio, she travelled the country, sketching the landscape and the archaeological ruins.

Breton’s beautifully accurate watercolours are just part of the 1,500 items that she bequeathed to Bristol Museum & Art Gallery upon her death. Read about how we have been caring for her collection through conservation and digitisation.