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COLONIAL OBJECTS
Painting - Oil Paintings


 

Mexican and Guatemalan Paintings

Origin I Characteristics I Urgency of the Situation I Legislation I Bibliography

Click on the photo to see caption and an enlarged version

Click on the photo to see caption and an enlarged version

Click on the photo to see caption and an enlarged version

The Ascension of our Lord, Alonso López de Herrera,
oil on canvas, 2.4 x 1.6 m
Wedding Ceremony, anonymous The Immaculate One, anonymous, oil on canvas
  © CONACULTA-INAH-MEX.
Reproducción autorizada por el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia
© CONACULTA-INAH-MEX. Reproducción autorizada por el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia © CONACULTA-INAH-MEX.
Reproducción autorizada por el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

--Origin  
 

Guatemala and Mexico.

--Characteristics  
 

Mexican and Guatemalan religious oil paintings date from the Colonial or Viceroyalty period from the 16th through the 18th centuries. Usually, they are worshipping pieces meant for churches and monasteries in Mexico and Guatemala.
Many artists are known, of which a great number are of Spanish, Mestizo and indigenous background. In the 16th century, painters such as Simon Pereyns or Andres de la Concha came from Spain and established important workshops to satisfy local demand. Second generation artists such as Baltazar Echave Orio, or third generation ones such as Luis Juarez, Alonso Lopez de Herrera, or Echave Ibia, created an original painting style at the end of the 17th century influenced by the manierist style. Finally, in the 18th century and following the baroque style, the names of Miguel Cabrera, Jose Ignacio de la Cerda, Nicolas Enriquez, Miguel de Herrera, Jose de Ibarra, Andres de Islas, Andres Jose Lopez, Juan Rodriguez Juarez or Cristobal de Villalpando stand out. Anonymous paintings also exist.
They are oil paintings done on a wood or canvas base, usually linen, covered with a mixture of calcium carbonate pigmented with a red or ocher color (often seen in the deteriorated areas). Afterwards, live-colored paint was applied followed by a final protective varnish layer.
The dimensions range from 5 cm to 2 or 4 m high. If done on wood, the planks tend to be smaller, whereas the oil on canvas can reach greater dimensions. Paintings over copper are usually small. They can have elaborate frames.
Generally, these paintings represent religious topics or scenes, such as works related to saints´ lives, images of martyrdoms, and scenes from the Passion of Christ as well as important personalities from the Catholic Church and founders of religious orders. Nevertheless, one of the most common iconographies is the image of Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus in arms.

 

--Urgency of the Situation  
 

These paintings, especially those signed by great artists, are of great quality and aesthetic value. They have additional value because they inform us about the historical process of incorporation of the viceroyalty of the New Spain to religion, thought, and aesthetic trends in Western Europe.
They also present original characteristics of style and composition, owed mostly to the fact that the sources of inspiration were European engravings and not sight of paintings or direct influence of great Western artists.
Many of these pieces continue to be in use in Catholic churches, as part of an architectural set and fulfilling their original religious function. Theft causes serious losses for the national heritage as well as for the community; and the works of art can be damaged since often during the thefts they are cut out of the frames and rolled up, which ruins them.
They tend to travel illegally as rolled up textiles and are sometimes folded showing the smooth side of the canvas.

 

--Legislation Protecting these Objects  
 

See Guatemala and Mexico

--Bibliography  
 
  • Gutiérrez, Ramón (coord.). Pintura, escultura y artes útiles de Iberoamérica, 1500-1825. Madrid, Ediciones Cátedra, S.A, 1995.
  • Sebastián, Santiago. El Barroco Iberoamericano: Mensaje Iconográfico. Madrid, Ed. Encuentro, 1990.

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October 2003