Article

The Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820

Maya Stanfield-Mazzi

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0028
The Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820

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The artistic traditions of Peru were transformed after the Spanish conquest of the region beginning in 1532. The Incas and previous cultures had painted on textiles, ceramics, and wood and had created mural paintings. But soon after the establishment of the viceroyalty of Peru in 1542, Spanish colonizers, often friars sent to Peru to convert native peoples to Christianity, introduced the art of using oil paints on canvas. By the end of the 16th century, oil and mural paintings began to be employed by both immigrant and native Andean artists to communicate the central tenets of Christianity. By the middle of the following century, local painting industries had been established in the major colonial centers of Cusco, Potosí, Quito, Santa Fe de Bogotá, and Lima. Artists produced thousands of works for local audiences, often using imported prints as models but precluding the need for imported paintings. The themes were largely Christian, but artists also painted portraits and small fruit and flower scenes. Painting in Peru continued robustly until the movements toward independence from Spain that began in 1809. Scholarship on colonial Peruvian painting has tended toward formal and iconographic studies in which works are considered in light of their mixed cultural heritage. Works with ostensibly Christian themes are examined for traces of traditional Andean religious beliefs, for example, and the unique pictorial styles that developed in centers such as Cusco are described as hybrids of the Andean and Spanish traditions. Other perspectives consider Peruvian painting within its colonial social context, looking for evidence of creative agency on the part of indigenous artists. A new vein of research considers the techniques and materials used by Andean painters.

Article.  11400 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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