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. The custom of dressing statues can be traced to Spanish traditions that were imported to the colonies. Confradias (religious fraternities) often assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the garments, jewelry, and regalia — all donated to enhance a revered statue’s image — and several such organizations continue this tradition today. Frequently, “dressed-statue” paintings themselves were similarly adorned with real jewelry attached to the canvas.