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a movement in the literature and fine arts of 19th-century Spain and Latin America. Arising out of the interest of romantics in folk life, costumbrismo was a turn toward a realistic portrayal of the world, expressing an upsurge of national consciousness and a desire to convey features of the people’s life, frequently with an idealization of patriarchal morals and customs.
In literature, costumbrismo developed primarily in the genre of the essay but was also given expression in the novel, drama, and poetry. The precursor of Spanish costumbrismo was S. de Mifiano (1799–1845), the author of the sharply critical essays Letters From a Poor Idler (1820). The establishment of costumbrismo in Spain is associated with the names of R. de Mesonero Romanes (1803–82), M. J. de Larra (1809–37), S. Estebanez Calderon (1799–1867), J. Somoza (1781–1852), S. Lopez Pelegrin (1801–6), and M. Lafuente (1806–66). In 1843, costumbristas published a collective work, Spaniards Depicted by Themselves, which brought about the appearance of many similar publications. The influence of costumbrismo was felt in the work of the regionalist writers A. de Trueba (1819–89) and J. M. de Pereda (1833–1906).
Costumbrismo arose in Latin America in the 1840’s. Important writers were J. J. Vallejo (1811–58) in Chile, J. de Dios Restrepo (1827–97) and T. Carrasquilla (1858–1940) in Colombia, F. Pardo (1806–68) and the poet R. Palma (1833–1919) in Peru, and J. B. Morales (1788–1856), M. Payno (1810–94), and the poet G. Prieto (1818–97) in Mexico.
Costumbrismo played an important role in the graphic arts and painting of Latin American countries. It was often linked to the scientific study of a country and was based on the documentarily accurate depiction of nature and the simple, attentive, and precise reproduction of the characteristics and colorful features of folk life and culture; at the same time the ethnographic motif in the works of the costumbristas frequently turned into lovingly recreated, at times idyllic, genre scenes. Costumbrismo realized the aesthetic value of nature and the events of day-to-day life and introduced simple people into the subject matter of Latin American art.
A significant school of costumbristas took shape in Cuba (V. P. Landaluce, 1825–89; F. Mialhe, 1800–68). Costumbrismo also developed in Colombia (R. Torres Mendez, 1809–85), Argentina (C. Morel, 1813–94), Uruguay (J. M. Besnes y Irigoyen, 1788–1865), Chile (M. A. Caro, 1835–1903), and Mexico (J. A. Arrieta, 1802–79).
REFERENCESPolevoi, V. M. Iskusstvo stran Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1967.
Spell, J. R. “The Costumbrista Movement in Mexico.” Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 1935, vol. 50.
Costumbristas españoles, vols. 1–2. Edited by E. Correa Calderón. Madrid, 1950–51.
Duffey, F. M. The Early “Cuadro de Costumbres” in Colombia. Chapel Hill, N.C, 1956.
Rojas, M., and M. Carrizzo. Los costumbristas chilenos. [Santiago de Chile, 1957.]