DESCRIPTION: A classic painting from the Peruvian Cuzco School, this stunning oil on canvas of Arcangel San Rafael dates from the 19th C. San Rafael is depicted with angelic face and a crown of roses on his head. The angel is dressed in boots and an elaborate traveler's coat with lace cuffs. From his left hand he holds a fish, which is the symbol of this saint. Wonderful condition; in a more recent burlwood frame; unsigned. Fine detail work and an excellent representation of the distinguishing attributes of Cuzco School paintings (read more below). DIMENSIONS: Sight: 11 1/8" wide (28.3 cm) x 15" high (38 cm). In the frame: 13 1/2" wide (34.2 cm) x 17 1/4" high (44 cm).
ABOUT SAN RAFAEL: In the hierarchy Angelica, San Rafael, along with Gabriel and Michael, is one of the most well-known angels of Christian devotion. In the Book of Tobit, considered canonical by Roman Catholics, he is the companion of the young Tobias, whom San Rafael guides on a journey. During a river crossing, Tobias is attacked by a large fish, which Rafael kills. Later, he heals Tobias' father, Tobit, of his blindness. In Christian iconography, this angel is the protector of travelers and one who heals. Traditionally he is depicted in travel attire holding a scepter in one hand and a fish in the other as a symbol of his journey with Tobias.
THE CUZCO SCHOOL: The Cuzco School (Escuela Cuzqueña) was a Roman Catholic artistic tradition based in Cusco, Peru (the former capital of the Inca Empire) during the Colonial period of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It is considered the first artistic center that systematically taught European artistic techniques in the Americas, and was the most distinctive major school of painting in Spain's American colonies. In the Colonial period, the Spanish sent a group of religious artists to Cusco, who then formed a school for Quechua and mestizos peoples, teaching them the techniques of drawing and oil painting. Soon, Cusco became the main art center in the Andes highlands. Eventually it spread to other cities in the Andes, as well as to present day Bolivia, Ecuador and Mexico.
This Spanish colonial art flourished in the New World where the native artists developed distinctive regional styles by combining native subjects with European artistic traditions. Native and mestizo artists transformed the formal and iconographical styles of European art to create a uniquely American style of religious painting. Favorite subjects included biblical narratives, hieratic figures of the Virgin and saints, and elaborately dressed archangels. Cuzco School paintings are characterized by their lack of perspective (giving them a flattened spatial appearance) and the predominance of red, yellow and earth colors. They are also remarkable for their lavish use of gold leaf overlay (brocateado de oro), a strong decorative aesthetic, and idealized landscapes that often include brightly colored tropical birds. Most Cusqueña paintings were created anonymously because of Pre-Columbian traditions that define art as communal; the Cuzco School artists painted predominantly for religious devotion and display in churches and cathedrals.