REVERENCE RENEWED: Colonial Andean Art from the Thoma Collection

January 15 – March 20

/ 2009

The invasion of the Incan Empire by Spanish forces in the 1530s marked a defining moment in Andean history and art. Visual culture in the newly-established Viceroyalty of Peru (present-day Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and more) was modeled to some degree on the art and architecture of Italy, Spain, and Flanders. Yet South American artworks were products of their colonial environment, indeed often made by indigenous and mestizo (mixed-blooded) artists and informed by their own cultural circumstances and the demands of their local patrons.

This exhibition focuses on three distinctive characteristics of painting in the Andean region: the popularity of the Virgin Mary as icon and image; the artists and their stylistic inspirations, particularly in the artistic center of Cuzco; and the emergence of a distinctive representational repertoire drawn from European tradition but elaborated in fresh and unpredictable ways. Works from this fluid environment include historical narratives of Spanish power, secular portraits, extraordinary silverwork, and above all, Catholic imagery-renewed in its Andean environment.

This extraordinary exhibition is drawn from the collection of Marilynn and Carl Thoma of Chicago and is further enhanced by the loan of works from Richard and Roberta Huber of New York City. The Vincentian Endowment Fund also provided generous support.