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.
The California Missions
History, Art and Preservation
Conservation and Cultural Heritage Series