La Catrina is a skeletal woman who portrays a maid dressed in her mistress’s fancy clothes for a night out. Illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1851-1913) created La Catrina to remind people that in death we are all equal, and earthly riches cannot be taken to the next life. Posada used skeleton images to express social commentary and as an outlet for protest against the dictatorial government. He drew cartoons that appeared in penny papers or broadsheets, which were available to the rich and poor alike. La Catrina is the most recognized of Posada’s figures.
Posada was largely ignored by the art world during his lifetime, but after his death famous artists including Diego Rivera discovered and popularized his work. By the 1930s, Posada’s skeleton images were a national symbol. The popularity of these calaveras led to their inclusion in Day of the Dead celebrations. This ceramic representation of La Catrina is currently on exhibit in Life After Death: The Day of the Dead in Mexico, along with several others.