Sep 142023

Pedro Magallanes López was a Guadalajara photographer, active from the mid-1880s until the start of the 1920s, whose studio was initially located in the city center at Santuario #1, and then at Pedro Loza 17. This latter location was advertised in 1922 as for sale or rent, suggesting that this may be when Magallanes retired.

Best known for his superb portrait work, Magallanes also took several very interesting photographs of Lake Chapala, colorized versions of which were published by the Guadalajara firm of Editores Alba y Fernández. (Among those credited for other postcards of the region in the Alba y Fernández series are J. de Obeso and Manuel Hernández.)

Pedro Magallanes. Undated. Fuerte de Ocotlán.

Pedro Magallanes. Undated. Fuerte de Ocotlán.

At the start of Magallanes’ career, the town of Ocotlán, on the main railroad line between Mexico City and Guadalajara, was still one of the major routes via which visitors reached the town of Chapala. Near Ocotlán, the resort known as Ribera Castellanos, built in the first decade of the twentieth century, attracted lots of tourists, especially those looking to hunt or fish.

Relatively little is known about the life of Pedro Magallanes López. He was born on 23 August 1863, the son of Pedro Magallanes and Petra López, and married Herminia del Castillo, then aged 20, in January 1887. The couple had four children. Sadly, his first wife died in December 1894.

Four years later, Magallanes took Clotilde Castellanos as his second wife. Clotilde, 30 years old at the time of their marriage in Guadalajara on 24 August 1898, gave birth to a daughter, also named Clotilde, on 4 March 1900, and to a son, José Manuel, on 1 April 1902.

Magallanes’ marriage to Clotilde, who had been present as a guest at his first marriage, clearly cemented his ties to the extensive and influential Castellanos clan, and Magallanes became the family’s official portraitist (see the article by Beatriz Bastarrica Mora). He took numerous formal portraits of family members and groups, as well as many unusually informal photos of the family vacationing at Lake Chapala. Some of these show the family’s domestic workers and several include local residents in the background.

Pedro Magallanes. Undated. View of Chapala from Villa Carmen.

Pedro Magallanes. c 1910. View of Chapala from Villa Carmen.

Magallanes’ studio in Guadalajara was only one of several photo studios that thrived in Guadalajara at the time. The reverse of his photos included an elaborately drawn logo of an arch, bright rays of light, flower pots and flowers emblazoned with the photographer’s name. Many prints also included a statement saying that the negatives were kept on file to allow for future repeat orders. As Alberto Gómez Barbosa has pointed out, this is indicative of the importance Magallanes attached to marketing and maintaining clients.

Magallanes died in Guadalajara on 6 September 1928. In 1930 his widow, Clotilde (aged 63), was living in the city with several unmarried relatives, including Clotilde Magallanes (30), Manuel Magallanes (28), M. Maria Magallanes (20) and Beatriz Magallanes (15).

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My 2022 book Lake Chapala: A Postcard History uses reproductions of more than 150 vintage postcards to tell the incredible story of how Lake Chapala became such an important international center for tourism and retirement.

Note: This post was first published 4 July 2019.


Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcomed. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.

  5 Responses to “Lake Chapala on a postcard: Pedro Magallanes”

  1. what wonderful photographs–a pleasure to see

  2. Dear Tony Burton, please let me know how I can get a copy of your biographical note on Pedro Magallanes and copies of the references. Pedro Magallanes Lopez is my great uncle on my mother’s side, the son of my great great grandfather Pedro Magallanes and great great grandmother Petra Lopez. Years ago I visited his daughter known as “Chata” who married a Vizcaino, close friend of her brother Manuel. We have many beautifully framed family member photographs from the Porforiato era that I would like to bring to the attention of Beatriz Bastarrica Mora. Our maternal grandmother Concepcion Colom y Magallanes married Dario Padilla Gutierrez, so we have a large number of Padilla relatives including the late Oscar de la Torre Padilla who was a close friend of my parents and whom I always saw when in Guadalajara. Thank you for your wonderful work in preserving the history of Lake Chapala. Best regards, Fernando de Necochea Padilla.

  3. Hi Tony, I am Beatriz Bastarrica Mora, and I am very much interested in knowing the sources you used for Magallanes´ biographical data. I have a couple of academic papers written about him and have never been able to collect this kind of information. Thank you so much in advance.

    • Hi Beatriz, I have always admired your work and am delighted to be in contact with you. I will respond properly via email shortly. Saludos, Tony.

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