Colnaghi gallery and Jaime Eguiguren Art & Antiques are delighted to present Discovering Viceregal Latin American Treasures, a survey exhibition that brings together more than a hundred works of art from the Viceregal period (c. 1520 – 1820).
The Old Master works in the exhibition date from the 17th to 18th century, and are comprised of paintings, sculptures, chests, gold and silver objects, furniture and textiles. The show comes at a time of heightened interest in this epoch, with a major recent exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and works from the period far surpassing presale estimates at Christie’s in 2020.
Says Colnaghi’s joint CEO Jorge Coll, “I am delighted to be collaborating with Jaime Eguiguren, the world’s pre-eminent expert on viceregal art, on this presentation of museum quality works. This global exhibition will be the first ever physical and virtual reality show of viceregal art, and the largest survey of Latin American Art from across the ages. The viceregal element of this survey responds to the popular demand in the market for the unique and rare pieces from this era. With these two wonderful exhibitions, we are excited to introduce those unfamiliar with the art from this region to something highly original.”
As the Spanish colonized present-day Ecuador, art became a powerful tool for the Catholic Church. At first, sculptures and paintings were imported from Spain, but from the mid-16th century the Church set up guilds and workshops to train a local base of indigenous artisans. From these workshops blossomed one of the most important artistic genres in Latin America: the Escuela Quiteña (Quito School of Art). A sculpture of Saint Michael the Archangel, c. 1750, is one of the finest examples of this significant artistic time period on the market.
Within the Old Masters group, an exceptionally high-quality pair of oil and mother-of-pearl portraits showing Saint Martin on Horseback and Saint Joseph and the Infant Jesus, Mexico, c. 1690, by Juan and Miguel González are highlights. Hailing from Mexico City, the González were celebrated at the time as ‘makie and inlay painters’, due to their incomparable use of mother-of-pearl. Their portraits in this exhibition are a remarkable example of that prodigious technique.
Another important work is an anonymous portrait of the Baroque poet Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz. The artist has portrayed the youthful Mexican poet, writer, philosopher and composer on a copper plate, using strong, rich pigments of green and red. She looks out at the viewer from beneath her nun’s wimple, clasping an icon of the Virgin Mary to her breast. This previously unpublished portrait undoubtedly stands as the only known preserved work painted of the poet during her lifetime. In all likelihood, it is the one to which a plethora of research and theories about Sor Juana have alluded, in the search for the real face of the most celebrated representative of New Spanish literature.
A vivid portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth could be interpreted at first glance as a scene from Christ’s Passion, but the altar table and beautiful vases of fowers depicted upon it lead us to acknowledge that this is in-fact a portrait or representation of a Holy Week processional statue. Our painting adheres to the model of Christ of Nazareno and features exquisite details such as Jesus’ robe, which is beautifully adorned with brocateado (a technique simulating brocade), as well as the varying opulent fabrics covering the altar including a fantastic tasseled white fabric, and lace trimmed panels of embroidery.
Alongside these unique Old Masters, antiquities from the Pre-Columbian period and masterpieces by Latin American modernists are also on view in Colnaghi’s galleries, emphasising its commitment to cross category collecting and bringing works from different periods to new audiences around the globe.