In this painting the richly dressed and bejeweled Virgin is portrayed atop her altar in the rigid frontal pose characteristic of statue paintings. A bundled up Christ child is equally lavishly dressed. Two charming putti are shown pulling the curtains open to display the holy image. The profusion of brocateado, a technique of applying gold leaf ornamentation to the surface of the canvas, provides a unique shimmer and texture to the painting. This technique was widely used throughout the Hispanic world but it is most closely associated with Cuzco, especially after Native artists withdrew from the Spanish-dominated guild in 1688 and developed their own pictorial style, known as the Cuzco School.
Ilona Katzew, 2009
This work belongs to the genre of statue painting, which depicts sculpted images of religious figures on their altars. The original statue is an image designed to be dressed (imagen vestidera) that, according to legend, was sent to Peru by the Spanish monarchs, directly linking it to Spain. As a processional sculpture firmly associated with the parish of Belén, it was also deeply rooted in local Cuzco Catholicism. The use of gold applications (brocateado), a popular technique among Cuzco artists, enhances the painting’s sense of preciousness, while the depiction of various textiles—local and foreign—demonstrates the long-standing Andean interest in woven materials.
From exhibition Archive of the World, 2022 (for more information see the catalogue entry by Maya Stanfield Mazzi in the accompanying publication, cat. no. 12, pp. 75–79)
- Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 6, 2011 - January 29, 2012
- Archive of the World: Art and Imagination in Spanish America, 1500–1800*** Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, June 12, 2022 - October 30, 2022
- Archive of the World: Art and Imagination in Spanish America, 1500–1800*** Nashville, TN, Frist Art Museum, October 20, 2023 - January 28, 2024