1950. Pyroxylin on masonite. Palace of Fine Arts, Mexico City, Mexico. Read Note.
Cuauhtemoc (1502? - 1525) was the Aztec (Nahua) ruler who succeeded Moctezuma II (1466-1520). The Aztecs had a myth that one day, the god Quetzalcoatl, described as fair-skinned and red-haired, would arrive over the ocean from the east and usher in a new age of prosperity. Hernan Cortes (1485-1547), the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, was perceived to fulfill this legend when he landed on the Mexican conquest and therefore welcomed by Moctezuma. After the Aztec ruler was killed, the throne was claimed by Cuauhtemoc, who led an ultimately unsuccessful guerrilla campaign against the Spaniards. Although this version of events, particularly Moctezuma's role, has been challenged in recent years, it was widely believed in Siqueiros' day and it was for this reason that Cuauhtemoc was adopted by the Mexican Muralists as a symbol of militant Mexican nationalism, and Moctezuma -- of short-sightedness and superstitious naivete