Hermenegildo Bustos was born in Purísima del Rincón, Guanajuato, on April 16th, 1832. Together with José María Velasco and José Guadalupe Posadas, he joins the pantheon of great 19th century Mexican artists. Though highly regarded by Octavio Paz for painting "the most complex, difficult and mysterious human faces to perfection," Bustos was a man of many professions, amongst which painting was only one of them and who reluctantly signed his work on the reverse with the phrase: "Hermenegildo Bustos aficionado".
Little more than one hundred oils on zinc plates and a few canvases by Hermenegildo Bustos of very small dimensions survive today. The significance of his painting has been nevertheless been featured at both the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico City. This Retrato de mujer (Portrait of a Woman) from 1861, demonstrates Paz's assertion that the portraiture of Bustos embodies a "real presence (..) it talks to us, looks at us"; and in turn, "we can listen to it, we can talk to it, and while looking at it, we discover the presence of a soul".