DESCRIPTION: A large Cuzco School oil on canvas depicting “Our Lady of Pomata,” who is said to protect the town of Pomata, Peru. Pomata is situated above Lake Titicaca in the highlands of Peru, and was once a popular Christian pilgrimage shrine. In this painting the Virgin is depicted as cradling the Christ Child in her left arm and holding a bouquet of flowers in her right hand. Both she and the child are adorned with bejeweled and feathered gold crowns and fine white lace which almost seems three dimensional. Her long flowing gown has burgundy sashes embroidered in gold with large swags of pearls fastened with huge rosettes. Pearls were a novel find by the Spanish in the New World, and became a symbol of purity. The Virgin stands as if on an altar whose gold trimmed drapery has been opened for worship. Two angels hold the drapery back, while St. Nicholas Tolentino and St. Rose of Lima appear at her feet, hands folded in prayer. This painting is unsigned, is in good condition, and most likely dates to the late 19th or early 20th C. DIMENSIONS: Sight dimensions are 33.5" high (85 cm) x 24.5" wide (62.3 cm). In the frame 37.75" high (96 cm) x 28.75" wide (73 cm).
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 and flowers.