The Murals

Cueva del Río’s painting style is very much in the Rivera tradition: strongly modeled figures, bold colors, and heavy symbolism. We can see in a photo of the artist at work that he achieved these bold, simplified shapes by using a black outline technique. Water colors were applied al fresco, that is, on wet plaster. Cueva del Río worked with his left hand only, as his right hand was disabled. It has been suggested that because the Embassy murals were begun when Cueva del Río was only 23 years old, and completed eight years later, when he was 31, that the style and emphases become simpler and more subdued as we progress up the stairway.


Thanks to a grant from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, the Institute welcomed expert art conservationists and their students from the National School of Conservation, Restoration, and Museography of the National Institute of Anthropology and History to perform a months-long restoration of the murals. The project treated the alterations and deterioration from natural aging and anthropologic causes to restore the fresco, now more than 70 years old, to its original state. This timely revitalization of this cherished work of art allowed it to continue to serve as a valuable education resource and emblem of cultural diplomacy.

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