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The Art of JAMA
May 3, 2016

Market in San Miguel: Lew Davis

JAMA. 2016;315(17):1818-1819. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.14242

The city of San Miguel de Allende, founded in 1542 in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, became a center of commerce in the 16th century after the discovery of silver in the mountains of Zacatecas. Today San Miguel is known for its cobblestone streets, ochre walls, and hidden gardens. Most of the city’s outstanding religious and civic buildings were constructed in the 18th century; some have classically formal designs and others are highly decorative, with arches, spires, and ornamental facades. By the early 20th century, the population of San Miguel had dwindled and its old buildings were falling apart, but the city was revitalized by the Peruvian artist Felipe Cossio del Pomar and the American writer Stirling Dickinson, who founded the Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes in 1938. After World War II, Dickinson recruited American veterans to study at Bellas Artes with funding from the GI Bill of Rights. Their veterans’ benefits could support a comfortable lifestyle in Mexico, where the cost of living was much lower than in the United States.