María Antonieta Rivas Mercado Castellanos (b. Mexico City, April 28, 1900 - d. Paris, February 11, 1931) was a Mexican intellectual, writer, feminist and arts patron.

Antonieta Rivas Mercado
Antonieta Rivas Mercado.jpg
BornMaría Antonieta Rivas Mercado Castellanos
(1900-04-28)April 28, 1900
Mexico City, Mexico
DiedFebruary 11, 1931(1931-02-11) (aged 30)
Paris, France
SpouseAlbert Edward Blair
ChildrenDonald Antonio (b. 1919)



Rivas Mercado was born as the second of four children (Alicia; Antonieta; Mario and Amelia) of the notable architect Antonio Rivas Mercado and his wife Cristina Matilde Castellanos Haff.[1] Around 1910, during the Mexican revolution, her parents separated, and her mother moved together with Antonieta's older sister Alice to Paris, where they stayed until their return to Mexico in 1915.

Antonio Rivas Mercado refused to let his wife move back into the family's house, as a result of which Antonieta had to assume more responsibility at home. With her father's permission, at the age of 18, she married British-born, American-raised engineer Albert Edward Blair, and gave birth to their son Donald Antonio (Tonito) on September 9, 1919.[2] (Tonito married the writer Kathryn Skidmore Blair in 1961.) During the time the young family lived in a ranch in the state of Durango, there were periods when Antonieta Rivas sought separation from Blair, but he did not consent, as a result of which she was sometimes depressed.

She eventually moved to Mexico City and tried to file for divorce, and to obtain support for her son.[1] In 1927, her father died, and Antonieta became responsible for the care of her parents' house and her siblings. She financed and promoted cultural projects of considerable relevance; for example, she financed and became principally involved in the foundation of the Teatro Ulises, that broke with commercial theater in the Mexico of the time. Thanks to her encouragement, literary lounges were formed, and the Orquesta Sinfónica of Mexico City was formed. It was said that knowing Antonieta Rivas Mercado helped open the cultural doors in Mexico.

Rivas Mercado wrote for the magazine Los Contemporáneos and the Spanish periodical El Sol. She fell hopelessly in love with her friend, the painter Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, an affection that was not reciprocated.[3] In 1929, she had an affair with the politician José Vasconcelos, and later supported his electoral campaign. However, this love affair also proved to be fruitless, since Vasconcelos was married. In 1931, Antonieta followed Vasconcelos to Paris and, when rejected, shot herself at the altar of Notre Dame de Paris.[1]

Cultural depictionsEdit

In 1982, the story of her life was set to film in Antonieta, by Spanish director Carlos Saura and will be set to a Mexican telenovela in A la luz del ángel, by producer Carla Estrada.

In November 2010 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Mexican Revolution, the opera Antonieta by Mexican composer Federico Ibarra, was presented at the Teatro Flores Canelo, Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City. Mexican mezzo-soprano Lidya Rendón starred as Antonieta, in a staging by Antonio Morales and Rosa Blanes Rex, conducted by Enrique Barrios.

Further readingEdit

  • Fabienne Bradu: Antonieta (1900-1931) (Spanish), 1991 ISBN 968-16-3593-0

"In The Shadow of the Angel" by Kathryn Blair

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c Lilia Peralta: Antonieta Rivas Mercado (1900-1931) (Spanish), University of Arizona, October 20, 2008.
  2. ^ Darlene Harbou Unrue: Antonieta Rivas Mercado: Katherine Anne Porter's horror and inspiration., December 22, 2005.
  3. ^ Alejandra Salazar Salazar: Antonieta Archived May 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (Spanish).