Masterworks of Spanish Colonial Art from Phoenix Art Museum’s Collection
Panorama Online/ Culture Edition. Fall 2015. This landmark exhibition features a selection of remarkable paintings as well as a grouping of retablos (small-scale paintings on copper or tin) recently acquired by Phoenix Art Museum from the Estate of Gerry S. Culpepper and the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation.
With the exception of one exquisite 18th-century Mexican painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe—on display here for the first time—these paintings were all created in the 18th century in the Viceroyalty of Peru, a territory that encompassed present-day Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, among other modern South American nations. The exhibited retablos, on the other hand, were primarily produced in Mexico in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, the Last Judgment, saints, and archangels conquering Satan are among the most prominent subjects of the works on display. 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.
This exhibition affords the community the opportunity to view masterworks of Spanish Colonial art that have never before been exhibited. These works showcase the inventiveness, originality and skill of artists working in the Spanish viceroyalties during the 18th century. In addition, they illustrate these artists’ diverse approaches to religious imagery and its multifaceted meanings in the colonial world.
A generous gift of funds from Shawn and Joe Lampe enabled the Museum to undertake the cleaning and restoration of these donated paintings. Thanks to the
generosity of leading members of the Phoenix community Milena and Tony Astorga, Pari and Peter Banko, Lee and Mike Cohn, Mary and Harold Dorenbecher, Susan and Carter Emerson, Janis and Dennis Lyon, and Gail and Steve Rineberg, we were then able to frame these restored works of art.