California Missions: History, Art and Preservation

Overview


The story of the Spanish missions is one of the epics in the history of California. Founded in the late eighteenth century by Franciscan missionaries, designed by artisans from Mexico and Europe, and built and decorated largely by Native Americans, the missions were complex institutions of colonial industry, where European and indigenous cultures mingled and European technologies took root in new soil. Secularized and largely abandoned in the 1830s and 1840s, the missions fell into decline, only to be ...
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Overview


The story of the Spanish missions is one of the epics in the history of California. Founded in the late eighteenth century by Franciscan missionaries, designed by artisans from Mexico and Europe, and built and decorated largely by Native Americans, the missions were complex institutions of colonial industry, where European and indigenous cultures mingled and European technologies took root in new soil. Secularized and largely abandoned in the 1830s and 1840s, the missions fell into decline, only to be rediscovered in the late nineteenth century, when the mission story was transformed into a romantic myth that defined California in the popular imagination. While much fine scholarship has cast new light on the missions, surprisingly little has found its way into books written for general audiences. The present volume seeks to update the story of missions by focusing both on their material heritage--architecture, archaeology, art--and on their larger role in shaping the history and culture of California.

Illustrated in color throughout, The California Missions: History, Art, and Preservation combines engaging text with historical paintings, archival photographs, and recent photography to create a vivid profile of these iconic institutions. Initial chapters recount their founding and early history, examine their rediscovery in the late nineteenth century, and trace the beginnings of the mission restoration movement. Subsequent chapters present mission architecture and wall murals, survey the rich holdings of European and Native American art in mission collections, and examine the challenges involved in preserving the mission heritage for future generations. The second part of the book provides concise historical profiles for each of the twenty-one missions. There is also a glossary.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Each generation must reassess the history, architecture, art, and moral meaning of the California Missions. This sumptuous book - a landmark in the revival of Mission studies currently underway - will guide and structure all such assessments and preservation efforts for decades to come."--Kevin Starr, University of Southern California, author of the multivolume cultural history Americans and the California Dream

"No other single work offers a comparable wealth of information about the missions of California, all of which is superbly organized and clearly presented. This authoritative yet accessible volume offers readers a compelling and balanced account of the founding and early history of the missions, the birth and growth of the mission myth, and modern preservation efforts, as well as concise historical profiles of individual missions. A noteworthy achievement."--Rose Marie Beebe, Santa Clara University, coauthor of Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California and Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women

"The California missions endure as wondrous monuments, inviting us to ponder what happened there, and in this splendid book they receive the eloquent, multilayered chronicle they deserve. Evincing a sharp eye for ambiguous and contradictory narratives, understanding that the missions have dramatically different meanings to different people, and acknowledging Californians' enigmatic reverence for these special places, the authors have fashioned a nuanced, loving and visually sumptuous telling of the missions' origins and demise, crumbling and restoration, and persistence in California's complex historical memory. One thrills to hear the passions voiced in these places over the years, of the Indians and priests, boosters and restorationists, fictionalizers and fact-finders, and to feast our eyes on the paintings and photographs in this superb illustrated history."--Douglas Monroy, Colorado College, author of Thrown Among Strangers: The Making of Mexican Culture in Frontier California

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892369836
  • Publisher: Getty Publications
  • Publication date: 10/20/2009
  • Series: Conservation and Cultural Heritage Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 276
  • Sales rank: 1,374,261
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Edna E. Kimbro was a renowned architectural conservator and historian and a founding member of the California Mission Studies Association.

Julia G. Costello is an internationally recognized expert on archaeology and cultural resources, with particular expertise in the California missions.

Tevvy Ball is an editor with Getty Publications.

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