Francisco Zúñiga

(Costa Rican-born Mexican, 1912-1998)

Orante/Mujer con las Manos Cruzadas (Woman Praying/Woman with Her Hands Crossed), 1971

Bronze; 25 1/2 x 24 x 23 inches
Acquired in 1972

During his life, José Jesús Francisco Zúñiga Chavarría was considered as Mexico’s most prominent sculptor and deemed the nickname ‘Maestro.’ Inspired by his early experience carving saints or “santos,” an atmosphere of holiness is found in many of his figure, but Zúñiga was not always a sculptor. After studying at Excuela de Bellas Artes in San Jose he became a teacher at Escuela de Talla Directa. He also started a path as a painter working under Rodriguez Lozano, a muralist. Zúñiga initial interest in Lozano stemmed from a desire to learn how to truly express himself. Inspired by Lozano’s works Zúñiga eventually went back to sculptures, the influence of Lozano evident in his pieces. His most popular series Peasant Women represents the simple life. Zúñiga would sculpt female models in poses easy to hold for long periods of time. He portrayed these Mexican Indian women in all their majesty as mother, healer, comforter, and matriarch. By exemplifying the struggles and pride Zúñiga bronzes became eternal figures, forging a link to Mexico’s cultural past. “Orante/Mujer con las Manos Cruzadas” displays all attributes of his work that made Zúñiga a famous sculptor.


University of Houston
McElhinney Hall