Cuzco School

Saint Thomas Aquinas by Cuzco School

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Rolled Canvas
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According to the art historian Francisco Stastny, this complex allegory was commissioned by Cristóbal Traslaviñas, rector of Cusco’s San Antonio Abad University, between 1692 and 1696. The canvas was paired with another of San Antonio Abad [Anthony the Abbot], now owned by the MALI, and both were commissioned at a critical time for the university, the existence of which was threatened by pressure from Cusco’s bishop, Manuel de Mollinedo y Angulo. These then, were votive paintings, designed to solicit the protection of the institution’s patron saints. In this case, Saint Thomas Aquinas appears triumphant, crushing the Hydra of heresy. In the background, the two symmetrically arranged gardens symbolize the university, and the flowers represent the community which composed it. The golden ribbons and inscriptions reflect the Thomist orthodoxy professed by this institution, while at the same time granting the canvas an archaic aspect. This latter characteristic is a response to the local preference for flat and idealized painting, with meticulous attention to ornamental details.