Year-over-year, throughout the late colonial period, skilled painters occupied a privileged position at the pinnacle of viceregal society where they collaborated to develop techniques, compositional strategies, and iconographies in creating inventive portraits to satisfy the demands of their patrons while simultaneously giving visual form to the history of Spanish American colonialism. When Philip V ascended the Spanish throne in , the Habsburg period came to a close and a new French Bourbon chapter in the history of the Spanish monarchy was inaugurated.
Best known as a period of socioeconomic reform, eighteenth-century Bourbon Spain was governed by a spirit of enlightened absolutism. The government of Charles III legislated far-reaching agricultural, religious, financial, and political changes across the Iberoamerican world. Areche was also responsible for implementing changes in the American imperial governmental system. In addition to reconfiguring territorial boundaries, the reforms of included increasing the alcabala tax to six percent and establishing a customs house at La Paz.
Charles IV put increasing pressure on Spanish America when he authorized comprehensive territorial reorganization.
His agents were also responsible for an aggressive resubordination of American regions that were exhibiting particularly volatile behavior, such as the comuneros in New Granada or the highland indigenous rebellions of Alto Peru. Re-colonization efforts were primarily enacted through military and economic measures; however, Spanish Bourbon agents in Spanish America also dictated cultural reforms in which theater, music, and the visual arts were thought to be ideal means by which to shape the behavior and loyalty of American subjects.
During this period of mounting secularization, the Spanish monarchy attempted to regain control over artistic production so that the state would serve as the representative of its enlightened territories. In and , the crown issued restrictions on the arts which particularly addressed recent innovations in religious art. In the eighteenth century, the acts of commissioning and displaying painted works of art assumed a primarily secular function that resulted from enhanced local social cohesion.
The reserved aesthetic that shaped the development of a Habsburg visual culture throughout the Iberoamerican world slowly began to give way to a spirit of artistic innovation. An increase in the number of working artists and the demand for portraits led to a marked uptick in the number of Iberoamerican portraits produced during the Bourbon reform period. Throughout the eighteenth century, the imperial and viceregal courts persisted as influential patrons of the arts by hosting court painters, sponsoring performances, and founding arts academies.
For over years, Spanish monarchs had entrusted their American viceroys with the responsibility of representing the power of the distant Spanish monarchy and efficiently administering colonial governments. By the turn of the eighteenth century, the viceroys of Mexico and Peru had become indispensable patrons of the arts in Spanish America. The first Bourbon viceroy of Peru, Manuel de Oms r.
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During his time at the French court, Oms developed an affinity for all things French and became a cultured diplomat, collecting art, composing music, and writing plays. When he arrived in Lima three years after Philip V awarded him viceregal distinction, Oms brought his art collection, musicians, and a library which became influential in the viceregal capital almost immediately. Although Oms did not appoint a court painter with the notoriety and power of Le Brun, the Francophile viceroy publicly sponsored the arts throughout his short tenure in office.
According to the nineteenth-century viceregal biographer José Antonio Lavalle, Oms organized. On the contrary, early eighteenth-century Iberoamerican portraits tended toward the archaic reinterpretation of local seventeenth-century pictorial practices. Photo: Jean- Gilles Berizzi. Bravo de Lagunas and Oms were not the first Spanish American art collectors to amass treasured paintings for personal diversion. Earlier generations of American art collectors had imported artworks from abroad and commissioned local artists to create works to adorn their homes and institutions.
It should come as no surprise then, that Mexico City and Lima were among the first cities in the Iberoamerican world to host series of official portrait paintings. Some of the most important local institutions in Mexico City and Lima began collecting and displaying official portraits in the early seventeenth century. These portraits, while specific in their iconographies and details, typify early Spanish Habsburg bureaucratic norms, which dictated austerity, formality, and predictability. A account describes the display of viceregal portraits in the sala de real acuerdo [formal governing assembly hall] in the viceregal palace of Mexico City:.
High on the wall, hanging from a beam are twenty-four, half-length portraits of the viceroys that New Spain has had, from the very famous hero Hernan Cortés, her conqueror and first governor, although without title of viceroy, to the Marques de Mancera, who today governs her.
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Omitted from this account is a detailed description of the portrait paintings themselves; the author, rather, focuses his attention on the historical content of the portraits, in particular the identities of the sitters. However, this series, and another viceroy portrait series which was displayed in the cabildo municipal council chamber as a compliment to the courtly collection, have been preserved until the present day. The half-length figure is turned toward the viewer; however, his eyes shift to the edge of the picture plane without directly engaging with the audience outside the image.
Secretaría de Cultura-inah-Méx. The minimalism, order, and continuity observed in the seventeenth-century viceroy portraits in the Mexican series were directly inspired by the portraits of the first Spanish Habsburg monarchs. Portraits of Charles V and Philip II exhibit the highly-selective simplicity and elegant restraint that characterized their reigns fig.
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The artists of the Peruvian viceroy paintings also framed their contemporary sitters using visual precedents established during the reigns of Charles V and Philip II. This portrait, following its predecessors in the municipal portrait series, is uniform in physical canvas size. The unidentified artist filled the composition with the full-length figure of the viceroy standing in a shallow space framed by a checked-tile floor, velvet curtain, and inscribed cartouche. The red cross of the Order of Santiago is painted on the shoulder of his cape, indicating his membership in the exclusive honorary order.
Like the Mexican viceroy portrait series, the Lima viceroy portraits document the passage of time in colonial terms. The history of each viceroyalty is delimited by the individual tenures of viceroys, whose accomplishments while in office give form to distinct episodes in a coherent linear historical narrative. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century portrait paintings attempted to safeguard colonial elite privilege over time through visual conventions, limited innovation, and predictability. However, the Bourbon ascendency and resulting imperial restructuring destabilized the context in which elite portraits operated.
The model of imperial elite privilege previously indexed by the portraits collected by individuals and institutions came under rising scrutiny in the wake of internal viceregal instability and external attacks. The reception of portraits could not be sanitized or controlled; viewers brought awareness of social fractures, economic burdens, and social fragmentation to their visual experiences with portraiture.
The municipal council and viceregal chambers that displayed viceregal portraits were the primary centers of governance in viceregal Latin America. Colonial subjects of all backgrounds frequented the viceregal court, municipal council, and other colonial institutions in Lima and Mexico City where officials from the viceroy on down were required to patiently interact with concerned subjects.
As Inmaculada Rodríguez has shown, viceroy portraits were representations of power that were created against the sociocultural backdrop of political change throughout the viceregal period.
The historic viceroy portraits and each newly commissioned painting added to the series over time began to embody a sense of artistic innovation eschewed by previous generations of viceregal painters. When we consider the development of artistic practice across the Iberoamerican world, it becomes apparent that the expectations of history shaped through expansion and contraction the artistic process to varying degrees based on geographic location and historical context.
Bequeathing his earthly wealth to family members and religious groups, Bravo de Lagunas revised his last will and testament on December 29, This unique document provides a detailed description of his fine and decorative art collection, personal library, and sundry other valuables. Bravo de Lagunas also collected Spanish, Flemish, Italian, and other French paintings, but the majority of the artworks in his collection were created by local limeño artists. Twenty-three paintings were labeled as the work of Cristóbal de Lozano along with twenty-nine paintings by Cristóbal Daza, the largest body of works by a single artist in the collection.
Daza and Lozano were linked together in a professional relationship characterized by emulation and innovation nurtured under the patronage of an elite limeño art connoisseur. Lima artists were named as the specific creators of artworks in the same context as well-known historical European artists.
While many earlier and contemporary wills record the existence of artworks in private collections, there is little evidence detailing the working relationships of specifically identified artists with each other and their patrons. Bravo de Lagunas, Daza, and Lozano appear as the beginning of a collaborative network that fostered the development of portraiture in the late-colonial period. Peralta, who published the epic poem Lima fundada in , was a limeño historian who participated in the literary salons organized by Viceroy Oms.
The Universidad de San Marcos illustrated its own early modern history through a series of portraits collected from the sixteenth century onward. The San Marcos portraits resembled each other stylistically, iconographically, and compositionally. The subject of the portrait is precisely identified by a coat of arms in the upper half of the canvas and an inscribed cartouche in the lower half. Within this pictorial formula, artists freely improvised improvements, ornamentation, and arrangement.
The resulting artworks resembled each other, visualizing a coherent institutional legacy for the university. Furthermore, the portraits demonstrated awareness of contemporary stylistic developments, unique content, and artistic innovations. At first glance, this portrait may appear to conform to established portrait conventions; however, in this painting, Bermejo reinterprets the portrait Lozano painted of Bravo de Lagunas over twenty years earlier.
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Bermejo borrows the figural placement, position, costume, and ornamentation from his predecessor. He depicts the full-length figure of Bravo de Lagunas standing in the dimly lit interior of his study. A curling red curtain, desk, coat of arms, and inscription align with the visual expectations of the university portrait collection.
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Figura 7. The earlier portraits in the collection depict the male subject with one hand upon a closed book statically positioned on the desk, with one exception. Lozano depicts Pérez standing before a table, his downcast gaze landing on the verses of an open book. This active representation of seemingly static, frozen objects adds a previously unseen dimension to institutional portraiture.
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This gallery, which has not survived until today, was composed almost exclusively of American productions, as it is documented by the records of the General Archive of The Indies Seville ; but the death of the Duke in trip back to Spain left open important questions about this collection as if it would be intended for decoration of his residence or whether there was a commercial operation. In English and Spanish. This is the galley proof. The footnotes for my The footnotes for my article are unfortunately off by one number.