Briefly: The Latin American Collection

Joslyn Art Museum's small but notable collection of Spanish colonial art reflects the influence of Spanish missionaries on indigenous artists in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, particularly in Mexico and Bolivia. Joslyn's holdings, including an Our Lady of Guadalupe retablo and a travelling scroll by José María Hernández, exemplify the Spanish Colonial style—a combination of European-influenced compositions and Christian symbolism with traditional indigenous imagery.

Below are highlights selected from Joslyn's Latin American collection.
Latin America
Artist Unknown (Mexican, 18th century),
Our Lady of Guadalupe , 18th century,
oil on copper, 16 7/8 x 12 7/8 in.; 42.9 x 32.7 cm
Gift of E. Kingman, 1957.113

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most venerated religious image in Mexican culture.


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Artist Unknown (Bolivian, late 18th century),
The Virgin of the Rosary , late 18th century,
oil on canvas, 65 5/8 x 61 ¼ in.; 166.7 x 155.6 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Lowell, 1965.665

A distinctively New World type of Marian image is referred to as “dressed-statue” paintings. These are two-dimensional representations of popular religious statues with cloth garments that give the sculpted figure a triangular and often massive and rigid appearance. Frequently, “dressed-statue” paintings themselves were similarly adorned with real jewelry attached to the canvas.
 
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Artist Unknown (Bolivian, 18th century),
Saint Michael (San Miguel) , late 18th century,
oil on canvas, 61 x 42 ½ in.; 155 x 108 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Lowell, 1965.667

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Artist Unknown (Bolivian, 19th century),
Virgin del Carmen (The Virgin of Mt. Carmel presenting a scapular medal to St. Theresa of Avila) , ca. 1800–1820,
oil on canvas, 28 x 20 ¾ in.; 71.12 x 52.7 cm
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Frederick H. Lowell, 1965.661

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Artist Unknown (Bolivian, 19th century),
Our Lady of the Wall retablo (la Virgen en el Paredon) , 1866,
oil on tin, 7 x 4 ¾ in.; 17.8 x 12 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Lowell, 1964.106

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Artist Unknown (Bolivian, 19th century),
St. Isidore (San Isidro Labrador) , mid to late 19th century,
oil on canvas, 32 ¼ x 27 ½ in.; 81.9 x 69.9 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Lowell, 1965.664

The patron saint of Madrid, St. Isidore the Farm-Laborer was also much revered in the Spanish colonies. Isidore was a poor peasant working for a master who begrudged him the time he devoted to religious observance.  Folk art elements like flat perspective and imperfect anatomy suggest that the painting is the work of a self-taught artist, perhaps of Indian heritage.

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Artist Unknown (Bolivian, 19th century),
Our Lady of Sorrows , 19th Century,
oil on canvas, 32 ¾ x 23 ¾ in.; 83.9 x 60.3 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Lowell, 1964.113

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Artist Unknown (Bolivian, 19th century),
The Virgin of the Milk (Virgen de la Leche); Flight into Egypt (Huida a Egipto); Holy Family , 19th century,
oil on canvas, 60 x 41 in.; 152.4 x 104.14 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Lowell, 1965.666
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Artist Unknown (Bolivian, 19th century),
Saint Onuphrius (San Onofre) , late 19th century,
oil on tin, 12 x 10 in.; 30.5 x 25.4 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick H. Lowell, 1965.669

Saint Onuphrius, venerated by the hungry and the gravely ill, was a fourth-century hermit from the Thebaid Desert along the Upper Nile, where he lived alone from the age of ten. In constant prayer, he was sustained solely by bread and water brought to him by angels.

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Felix Ortiz (Mexican, 20th century),
Jar , ca. 1996,
black-on-black ware, Height: 9 7/8 in.; 25.08 cm
Museum Purchase, 1996.25

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José María Sara y Hernández (Mexican, late 18th - early 19th century),
Portrait of Sor María Micaela Josefa , 1792,
oil on canvas, 69 ¾ x 38 ½ in.; 177.2 x 97.8 cm
Museum purchase, 1962.314

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, portraits of nuns were often commissioned by a young woman’s family, for a daughter’s religious vocation was a source of great pride. This painting’s inscription mentions the subject’s religious and given names, as well as her parents’ names and the dates she took vows in the Capuchin convent of Puebla in 1791 and 1792.

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