SMU DeGolyer Library’s Brehme photographs of Mexico

La Piramide del Sol, San Juan Teotihuacan
La Piramide del Sol, San Juan Teotihuacan, ca. 1905-1920, by Hugo Brehme

Seventy-eight photographs and real photographic postcards by Hugo Brehme depicting the Mexican landscape between the years 1905 and 1920 are now available online. The images, held by SMU’s DeGolyer Library, are part of the Mexico: Photographs, Manuscripts, and Imprints digital collection, one of more than 30 digital collections that form part of CUL Digital Collections.

Ernst Hugo Brehme, born in Germany in 1882, cultivated a love for photography that would lead him to shoot in remote areas of Africa and Mexico. After moving to Mexico in 1908, Brehme photographed numerous monuments, towns and indigenous people that would result in a collection of images that captured the spirit of the Mexican people.

Taxco, Gro, Mexico D.F.
Taxco, Gro, Mexico D.F. , ca. 1920s, hand-colored, gelatin silver print by Hugo Brehme

Mexico’s famous volcanoes Ixtaccihuatl and Popocatepetl figure prominently in Brehme’s portfolio, and beautiful photographs of both appear throughout the online collection. Brehme was renowned for and earned his living by publishing guidebooks, which featured photographs of sites that would be likely tourist destinations.

El Ixtaccihuatl y el Popocatepetl
El Ixtaccihuatl y el Popocatepetl, ca. 1908-1915, by Hugo Brehme

The Brehme collection also includes Monumento Washington, a photograph of the George Washington statue which was subsequently torn down and dragged through the streets following the United States’ occupation of Veracruz during the Mexican Revolution. Also of note in the collection are two hand-colored photographs, ca. 1920s.

For more background, see Manion, Mary, Today’s artists are still being inspired by Hugo Brehme photography, Antique Trader.

2 thoughts on “SMU DeGolyer Library’s Brehme photographs of Mexico

  1. Wow, our family has an heirloom of the “Taxco, Gro, Mexico D.F. , ca. 1920s, hand-colored, gelatin silver print by Hugo Brehme” photo, but in Black and White. So nice to discover its photographer! Thank you!

  2. Unfortunately, many of the so-called Hugo Brehme photographs of Mexico are the work of Sumner W. Matteson of Iowa and Minnesota. Nevertheless, the photographs that Brehme publishes in his 4 books of Mexico and countless postcards are excellent and sometimes beautiful, regardless of the photographer. I think the photo you have is by Brehme.

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