On display in the Palace of the Governors, the Segesser Hides are a jewel of New Mexico’s museum collections and bear the first known depictions of Spanish colonial life in the United States. The hides illustrate an ambush in present-day Nebraska of a 1720 expedition led by the then-Lt. Governor of New Mexico. Painted on animal hide, likely bison, they are believed to have been created in New Mexico, where imported canvas was rare.
The hides found their way back to the Southwest—and eventually to the Palace—more than 200 years after Philipp von Segesser von Brunegg, a Jesuit priest, sent them to his family in Switzerland in 1758. It is believed that he acquired them in Sonora, Mexico, between 1732 and 1758, from the Anzas, a family that was prominent in military and civil affairs in both New Mexico and the Sonoran village where Father Segesser’s mission was situated.
Besides viewing them at the Palace, visitors can enjoy a computer-interactive exhibit in the History Museum that highlights various parts of the hides.
New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors. Photo by Blair Clark, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.
Note: Representative image at left is often cropped for display purposes. Downloaded high-resolution images are not cropped.