Unknown masters of Spanish colonial painting form the center of an upcoming exhibition in Arizona.
The Phoenix Art Museum recently acquired a robust grouping of retablos (small-scale paintings on copper or tin), which will feature alongside a number of 18th-century paintings produced in the Viceroyalty of Peru, a territory that encompassed present-day Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and much of the rest of South America.

Unknown, “The Archangel Michael Victorious Over Satan,” 43 x 30.5 in. (c) Phoenix Art Museum 2015

Most of the works have never before been exhibited, including the exquisite “Virgin of Guadalupe,” an 18th-century oil depicting the Virgin encompassed within a radiant mandorla. The Virgin is dressed in her canonical blue, her cape beautifully embellished with golden stars while her gown displays a dazzling array of intricate linear patterns. Outside of the mandorla, putti hold onto the stems of flowers, which organically grow and adorn the picture. Above Mary is Christ Pantocrator, who holds a small globe and gestures in blessing.

Unknown, “The Last Judgment,” oil on canvas, 96.5 x 76.25 in. (c) Phoenix Art Museum 2015

The Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, the Last Judgment, saints, archangels, and Satan are among the most prominent subjects of the works on display. The museum suggests, “Some of these paintings are very large and would have originally functioned as components of church altarpieces. Others are smaller in scale, but no less commanding, and would likely have served as devotional aids for prayer in chapels, private home shrines, monasteries or convents.”
“Masterworks of Spanish Colonial Art” opens on September 5 and will run through February 28.
To learn more, visit the Phoenix Art Museum.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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