Imperial expansion, conquest, and colonization marked the period spanning from 1500 to 1800. Cataclysmic social and geopolitical shifts brought people into closer contact than ever before—in real and imagined ways, propelling the creative refashioning of the material culture that surrounded them. After the Spaniards began colonizing the so-called New World in the late fifteenth century and set out to spread Christianity, artists in the Americas drew from a range of traditions—Indigenous, European, Asian, and African—reflecting the interconnectedness of the world. Private homes and civic and ecclesiastic institutions soon teemed with imported and local objects.
Spanish America was neither a homogeneous nor a monolithic entity, and local artists, including those who remain unidentified, were not passive absorbers of foreign traditions. Without eschewing the profound violence that marked the process of conquest and colonization, this exhibition emphasizes the intricate social, economic, and artistic dynamics of these budding societies that led to the creation of astounding new artworks—many shipped to other markets in their own day. This exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts underscores the generative power of Spanish America and its central position as a global crossroads. The works are drawn from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s notable collection of Spanish colonial art, which has largely been formed in the last fifteenth years.
Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Presented in part by
Quito, Ecuador. Dressed Image of the Virgin of Mercy or “The Pilgrim of Quito,” ca. 1700–50. Polychromed and gilded wood, iron, and glass; 20 7/8 × 9 13/16 × 9 7/16 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund, M.2022.12a-e. Photo: Carteia Fine Arts Madrid
Cuzco school (Peru). Virgin of Bethlehem, ca. 1700–20. Oil on canvas; 64 3/8 x 41 1/8 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Eunice and Douglas Goodan, M.2009.158. Photo: © Museum Associates/LACMA
Antonio de Arellano, (Mexico, 1638–1714); Manuel de Arellano, (Mexico, 1662–1722). The Virgin of Guadalupe (Virgen de Guadalupe), c. 1690. Oil on canvas; 20 7/8 Å~ 9 13/16 Å~ 9 7/16 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA
Attributed to Miguel Cabrera (Mexico, ca. 1715–1768). Nun’s Badge with the Virgin of the Apocalypse and Saints, ca. 1760. Oil on copper; diameter: 7 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund, M.2018.177.2. © Museum Associates/LACMA
Guatemala (for export market, possibly Peru). Sewing or Jewelry Box (Costurero o joyero), last third of the 18th century. Wood, inlaid with mother-of pearl and tortoiseshell, brass, silver, and paint; diameter: 15 3/4 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund. Photo: Galerie Terrades, Paris
Southern Andes, Peru. Poncho with Musicians, late 17th–early 18th century. Cotton, camelid-fiber, and silk and metallic-thread tapestry weave; 69 1/2 x 66 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Miss Bella Mabury, M.40.1.76. Photo: © Museum Associates/LACMA
Mexico or Guatemala. Coconut-Shell Cup, 17th–18th century. Polished and engraved coconut shell and silver; 4 1/2 x 4 x 2 1/2 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Ronald A. Belkin, Long Beach, California, in memory of Charles B. Tate, M.2015.69.2. Photo: © Museum Associates/LACMA