(1695-1768) was an indigenous Zapotec painter during the Viceroyalty of New Spain, today's Mexico. During his lifetime, he was recognized as the greatest painter in all of New Spain.
He was born in Antequera, today's Oaxaca, Oaxaca, and moved to Mexico City in 1719. He may have studied under the Rodreguez Juerez brothers or Jose de Ibarra.
Cabrera was a favorite painter of the Archbishop and of the Jesuit order, which earned him many commissions. His work was influenced by Bartolome Esteban Murillo and the French painting of his time.
While Miguel is most famous for his Casta paintings and his portrait of the poet Sor Juana, he also executed one of the first portraits of St. Juan Diego. In 1752 he was permitted access to the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe to make three copies: one for Archbishop Jose Manuel Rubio y Salinas, one for the Pope, and a third to use as a model for further copies. In 1756 he created an important early study of the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Maravilla americana y conjunto de raras maravillas observadas con la direccien de las reglas del arte de la pintura
The essential purpose of Maravilla Americana was to affirm the 1666 opinions of the witnesses who swore that the image of the Virgin was of a miraculous nature. However, he also elaborated a novel opinion: the image was crafted with a unique variety of techniques. He contended that the Virgin's face and hands were painted in oil paint, while her tunic, mandorla, and the cherub at her feet were all painted in egg tempera. Finally, her mantle was executed in gouache. He observed that the golden rays emanating from the Virgin seemed to be of dust that was woven into the very fabric of the canvas, which he asserted was of "a coarse weave of certain threads which we vulgarly call pita," a cloth woven from palm fibers.
In 1753, he founded the second Academy of Painting in Mexico City and served as its director.