Screen of the Conquest and the very noble and loyal city of Mexico. Mexico, last quarter of the seventeenth century.

Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz: The apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Mexico, circa 1770. Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

"Coat of arms granted by Emperor Carlos V to the descendants of the Incas Gonzalo Uchu Hualpa and Felipe Tupa Inga Yupangi, sons of Huaina Capac and grandsons of Tupa Inga Yupangi." General Archive of the Indies, Seville.

Pedestal of the Virgin of Charity, made of silver, with the representation of the Cerro Rico de Potosí. Villarrobledo. Spain.

Rafael López Guzman

Professor of Art History at the University of Granada. He has been director of Cultural Extension of the University of Granada, member of the Andalusian Commissions of Real Estate and Museums, and director of the Permanent Seminar of Historical Heritage of the International University of Andalusia. He coordinated, on a scientific level, the project "The Andalusian legacy" and directed the Master of Cultural Management at the University of Granada. He has also organized international postgraduate programs, coordinated by the AUIP, on “Heritage Management and Conservation” (Cuba and Colombia). He has been President of the Spanish Committee for Art History.

He is currently Vice President of the Center for Historical Studies of Granada and its Kingdom. He is also Director of the Department of Art History at the University of Granada. Likewise, he is Correspondent of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and the Academia de la Historia de Cartagena de Indias.

In 2014 he was awarded the Andalusian research prize "Plácido Fernández Viagas" in recognition of his research career. He has also been awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle (2015) for his contributions to the history of Mexican culture.

His publications revolve around modern times in Andalusia and Latin America (, as well as with Islamic culture and especially Mudejar art. He has participated in joint publishing projects, highlighting those referring to the Spanish-American, Mudejar and Muslim spheres, as well as others related to heritage conservation. As a lecturer and visiting professor, he has participated in postgraduate programs at different Spanish and American universities. He has coordinated and curated the assembly of numerous national and international exhibitions.

The surprising exhibition at the Prado Museum (Madrid), with the voice of its curator, Rafael López Guzmán, exclusively for Hilario.


In short, the idea was to bring to light the artistic traces of Latin America that in their time illuminated the life of Spain. Locating these works, restoring and studying them was one of the first objectives of this exhibition, and what wonders that have been brought together as a result of the work of the curatorial team headed by the professor of the University of Granada, Rafael López Guzmán, with the assistance of two Mexican specialists, members of the Institute of Aesthetic Research of the UNAM, Jaime Cuadriello and Pablo F. Amador.


From Hilario we set out to know relevant details of correct size, and we interviewed its curator, who told us in a first comment: “The objective was to visualize that important artistic heritage that came from America and was integrated in its time into the Spanish culture of this side of the Atlantic, works not valued enough up to now, and which currently remain in Spain in private collections, of a religious or public nature, some in places of difficult access, poorly understood, of which we had no news of their existence".


At the end of this enhancement of those treasures, the voice of López Guzmán continues: “we say in quantitative terms that, possibly, any citizen of Spain located in a small town or in a large city, currently has and in a radio 20 kilometers away at least one American work, without being aware of this statement. Or from another perspective, we affirm that in vice-royal times more works arrived from the other side of the Atlantic than, from the closest territories of the Hispanic monarchy, such as Naples or Flanders”.


The exhibition thus seeks to highlight the cultural importance of America for Spain, in a new perspective that allows us to appreciate how relevant it was in its time. Studies carried out, indicates López Guzmán, today allow us to measure the meaning of external markets for the artistic production of Mexico in viceregal times: between 25 and 30 percent of the work of art that was produced between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was produced for export to the viceroyalty of Peru, to Spain and the rest of Europe, and even to the Philippines. This production born in America from the 16th century brings together contributions from the cultures that were there, from Spain and the rest of Europe, even from Africa and even from the East through the Manila galleon.


And his curator clarifies, "of the hundred works that make up the exhibition, approximately a third correspond to the Viceroyalty of Peru, including paintings, sculptures and goldsmiths, all with exceptional artistic and cultural value”.



The exhibition


One hundred and seven pieces make up the exhibition that develops from two central axes: the urbanization that revolves around the main square of Latin American cities -concentration of its political, religious and economic power-, and the conventual atrium as a space for hybridization cultural that transcends the work of catechization and primary evangelization, since there education is attended and also, for example, the cross between pre-Columbian medicine and that which comes from Europe.


Tornaviaje. Ibero-American art in Spain will remain on display until next February.



Around the main square


The territorial occupation of America by the Spanish crown generated an important urban development that adopted the checkerboard model of square blocks -a few of rectangular blocks are known- with the founding of the Indian or natural peoples -through reductions and congregations, to control and catechize the original populations- and of the administrative cities where the Spaniards and Creoles lived, with the concrete organization of the territory.


Imagen de una sala con el biombo mexicano al centro. Fotografía, gentileza: Museo Nacional del Prado.


This evolution is reflected in the first room by a large six meter long screen with the representation of the history of the conquest of Tenochtitlan and on its other side, the view of Mexico City. Dated between 1692 and 1696, he traveled to Spain in his time and in the power of an uninformed family, he almost succumbed to the passage of time and neglect; but that, when restored, has become one of the five preserved specimens in the world.


It also shows urban development in the American territories, the plan of the city of La Plata raised in 1779, preserved in the General Archive of the Indies. It is appreciated in it, the head city of the Archbishopric of Charcas; A city that bore different names -Charcas, La Plata, Chuquisaca and Sucre- and is today the seat of the Legislative Power of Bolivia.


In these large urbanizations, its heart was located - and continues to be - around the Plaza Mayor, with the location of the different administrative powers and also, headquarters of the economic transfer with the markets where the different fruits of the earth were sold. from the nearby production areas and the goods arrived from other latitudes through the commercial traffic of the time. This is well attested by a beautiful view of the Plaza Mayor in Mexico City -its zócalo-, a painting made in 1772 by Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz and commissioned by Viceroy Bucareli. Towards there the natives converged with their local productions, a universe of new species -among them, potatoes, corn, tomato, pepper, and even chocolate and vanilla-, which were also exported to Europe transforming their gastronomy -the popular and the sumptuary- and ending the medieval famines. Four paintings from the 18th century, from Mexico and Quito, give an account of this local production.


And among the canvases located and exhibited in the rooms of the Prado Museum, there are also the portraits of different viceregal authorities -political and religious- commissioned to be sent to the communities of origin in the peninsula, or moved by the clients themselves to their He returned after serving in the overseas provinces, as happened with the portrait that Pedro José Díaz painted in 1773 of the viceroy of Peru, Manuel de Amat. Although it is worth clarifying, Rafael López Guzmán explains, “in general, these characters did not return to Spain, but rather stayed and died in America, creating genealogical lines that matured, at the end of the 18th century, political concepts that would lead to independence. of the American territories”.



Politics and religion on a round trip


The evangelization process required special training for the religious who, already in Spain, were acquiring knowledge about the native languages ​​of America -aymara, Quechua, Nahuatl and many others- in the desire to communicate with these populations. Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, Discalced Carmelites and Jesuits advanced with their devotions in a process that led to their own readings of the American world, with works that have different peculiarities that allude to local experiences. Among other paintings that reflect this cultural crossroads, stands out The Apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe, an oil painting by the Mexican Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz that painted in America around 1770, presides over the Chapter House of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.


HILARIO: Were these works of secondary quality, compared to the productions of the peninsular Spanish masters?


RAFAEL LÓPEZ GUZMÁN: The exhibition makes it clear that this was not the case, rather it shows the opposite. Two important paintings by the Mexican masters Cristóbal de Villalpando and Nicolás Rodríguez Juárez are on display; High-class works that deny that image that weighs on American production as of secondary quality, compared to the baroque and Spanish Renaissance creations. They are preserved in the Cathedral of Jaén, and present that hierarchy that the series of sixteen paintings also has attributed to José de Ibarra, another Mexican artist influenced by the work of Murillo, but in his own compositions of remarkable quality.


H: Can we see in Tornaviaje the traces of the Inca culture?


RLG: We place it in the art of viceregal Peru that hybridizes with aesthetics and pre-Hispanic artistic forms. For example, in the "Coat of arms granted by Emperor Carlos V to the descendants of the Incas Gonzalo Uchu Hualpa and Felipe Tupa Inga Yupangi, sons of Huaina Capac and grandsons of Tupa Inga Yupangi" (General Archive of the Indies, Seville), dated in 1545, where "The great Ynga Yupangui topa" (sic) is represented with the elements typical of the Incan from the mascaipacha (1), the unku with tokapus decoration (2), the llakolla (3), as well as, in gold, the earmuffs, the scepter, the tupayauri (4), the knee pads and the sandals, the latter with representations of pumas.


In the same way, other elements typical of the Inca culture such as the fabrics called "cumbi", based on vicuña wool, which were reserved for the family of the rulers, are present, with great precision, in the portrait of the Marquesa from Villafuerte, Mrs. Constanza de Luxán.


H: Have you selected for the exhibition other works created in the religious art production centers of Quito, Lima, Cuzco or Potosí?


RLG: Yes, although we do not exhibit all the localized works. Let's say that, at that time, there was a need to show the social prestige acquired in America, to communicate to its countrymen the economic situation reached, and for this, paintings were sent, above all, from the different producing centers of the viceroyalty of Peru. This is the case of Diego Morcillo, who was viceroy of Peru and archbishop of La Plata (current Sucre) and Lima, who sent several works to his native town called Villarrobledo (province of Albacete), among which the stand of the Virgen de la Caridad, which is a model of the Potosí hill with excellent topographic precision, joined by plants, llamas and people who carry out their activity around the mine mouths. Of that viceroy / archbishop some of his portraits are preserved in Villarrobledo, which are not in the exhibition; but also other paintings by, for example, the counts of la Vega del Ren, a Creole family that was ennobled in Peru and that had to send at some point (possibly in the 19th century) portraits to family branches in the Iberian Peninsula to strengthen those ties of blood. We exhibit three of them; some others are currently in North American collections.


In the sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity, Villarrobledo, its patron with the base and the arch carved in silver, arrived from America. Photography: Courtesy of Tourism Villarrobledo Town Hall.



And in the exhibition other works of a religious nature arrived from America are presented, which qualified the donors and served to exemplify in the territories that received them, a new religiosity specific to America. I am referring to devotions such as the Virgin of Copacabana, Santa Rosa de Lima, the Pilgrim Virgin of Quito or the Virgin of Chiquinquirá of Colombia; devotions expressed in paintings and images. Indeed, heirs to pre-Columbian techniques and adapted to new needs, we also present an image of the Virgin of Copacabana made in maguey paste in Upper Peru around 1617, preserved in the Madres Dominicas Monastery in Seville.


H: You just mentioned that potosine base exhibited in Tornaviaje; the silver extracted from the Cerro Rico de Potosí not only enriched the coffers of the crown, it also traveled carved in wonderful works.


RLG: The silver from the American mines and specifically from Potosí, put into circulation a huge monetary coin minted in the different mints, starting, of course, with the one located at the foot of the mine. But an important amount of metal was also treasured in goldsmith works that served to visualize the social prestige of the clients. Chalices, Tabernacles, processional crosses, ciboriums, monstrances, show that religious fervor that crossed the Atlantic and reveal the qualities of their American masters, authentic craftsmen in the most diverse trades.


And I must mention among those silver pieces exhibited, the casket -a sumptuous box carved in a Alto Peru workshop from the second half of the 18th century- that belonged to Bishop Pedro de Barroeta, a native of Ezcaray in La Rioja, who donated it to the church. of his people, as indicated by his testamentary legacy.


H: Have they not found containers in Spain for the infusion of yerba mate?


RLG: Regarding these containers, there are none in the exhibition, if there are other specific ones for American products such as a mancerina (5), typologically related to the viceroy of Peru between 1639 and 1648, Don Pedro de Toledo y Leiva (Marquis of Mancera) fond of chocolate consumption and supposed "inventor" of this type of support.




1. Mascaipacha: crown, symbol of power in the Incan.

2. Pre-Columbian garment, predecessor of the poncho, called by the Spanish “camixeta”; It had an opening for the head and its sides sewn, leaving free space to pass the arms. Sometimes it was decorated in well-defined fields -the tokapus- where different scenes, characters and elements are observed.

3. Llakolla: Aboriginal child or youth.

4. Tupayauri: golden rod or staff, another symbol of power in Inca culture.

5. Plate with a circular clamp in the center, where the gourd in which the chocolate is served is placed and held.

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