Cuzco School

Holy Family with Saint John and a Goldfinch by Cuzco School

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Rolled Canvas
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Canvases like this reflect the artistic preferences of indigenous painters, who from 1688 began to work independently of their “Spanish” contemporaries and officially accepted practices. This is a Holy Family, the depiction of which is remarkable for its idealized design, the delicacy of the brushwork in gold and transparent tones, and the meticulous lines of the quilt, as delicate as mesh gauze, coating and appearing to flatten the sense of volume created by the cloth. The composition employed illustrates well the ability of Cusco-born masters to reuse and recombine earlier works, in an archaizing tendency. In fact, this canvas is a notable example of how the old Italian models endured in the imagery of anonymous Cusco artists, most probably of indigenous origin. The painting takes its inspiration from the Virgin with Child and Saint John(1592-1593) painted by Bernardo Bitti for the Jesuit church in Sucre. But the gesture and position of the infant Jesus, who is looking over his shoulder towards the viewer, and the way he is touching Mary’s cheek, derive from the celebrated Madonna of the Milk by Matteo Perez d’Aleccio.