Portrait of Ana María Huarte, First Empress of Mexico (1786-1861) and wife of Agustín Iturbide, Emperor of Mexico from 1822-23. Drawn from life in ink on paper, and subsequently attached to a sheet inscribed "María Huarte, 1832." Dry embossed on the upper left corner with a lion on a crown. When backlit, a partial watermark "& SON" is visible.
Empress Ana María of Mexico belonged to an important New Spanish (Mexican) noble family, the House of Tagle, who traced their ancestry to 6th-century Asturias in Spain, and included the Marquis of Altamira. She married Agustín de Iturbide in 1805, and they had ten children together. She became Empress Consort of Mexico in 1822, but nearly a year later the empire was dissolved and Ana María went into exile in Europe with her husband and children. Upon becoming a widow in 1824, she moved to the United States.
When the unknown artist sketched the former Empress in 1832, Huarte had recently moved to Philadelphia with two of her daughters. The portrait captures the sober—if not forlorn — countenance of a 46-year-old widow richly attired and bedecked with pearls. Ana María survived on a pension that the Mexican Congress paid her, as former Empress, from 1824-1847. She died in 1861 and was entombed at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Philadelphia, where she was a parishioner. To this day, the church celebrates its particular link with Mexico.