Anonymous (Peruvian, 18th century)
Anonymous (Peruvian, 18th century)
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Anonymous (Peruvian, 18th century)

Nuestra Señora de Cocharcas

Details
Anonymous (Peruvian, 18th century)
Nuestra Señora de Cocharcas
oil on canvas
57 ½ x 48 in. (146.1 x 121.9 cm.)
Provenance
Private collection, Caracas.
Gift from the above to the present owner.
Post lot text
1 E. A. Engel, “Visualizing a Colonial Peruvian Community in the Eighteenth-Century Paintings of Our Lady of Cocharcas.” Religion and the Arts 13, no. 3 (2009): 299–339.

Lot Essay

The so-called “statue paintings” genre developed in the Andean regions in cities such as Cuzco in the seventeenth century but by the eighteenth century, were also executed in Potosí in present day Bolivia. These unusual paintings sought to replicate the three-dimensional devotional figure of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ child, and were prevalent in the region for their depiction of local advocations or apparitions, such as the present painting, which relates to the Virgin’s miraculous appearance at the Peruvian city of Cocharcas. The sculptural figure was either rendered on an altar or as in this remarkable painting, under an elaborate baldachin or canopy. The Virgin and Holy Child are monumental and appear as part of a lively religious procession within the harsh Andean landscape which provides the geographical and historical setting for the sacred figures as numerous devotees make their way to her shrine painted at the upper right of the dazzling composition.
The painting commemorates the story of a young man, Sebastián Quimichi, from Ayacucho who suffered an injury to his hand and set out on a journey to the shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana on Lake Titicaca, the most important Marian shrine in the Andes, in search of a miracle from the Blessed Virgin.1 Indeed, his hand healed along the road due to his faith but he continued on to give thanks to the sanctuary where he hoped to bring back a replica of the statue of the Virgin to his hometown of Cocharcas so others may venerate her. As people heard of the wondrous phenomenon, the legend and devotion to the Virgin flourished as he proceeded on the road back home with a model of the statue and hordes of pilgrims joined him singing songs of thanks to the Virgin while flowers grew as they traveled along the winding pilgrimage. The artist has included all sorts of remarkable vignettes about those who accompanied the Blessed Virgin which included farmers, merchants and the clergy, on foot but also carts and horses.
The present lot illustrates the pageantry of devotion in a masterful composition inspired partly by local Marian piety but also imbued with a sense of identity clearly demonstrated by the Andean communities which embraced Christian imagery while keeping their sacred ancient deities. Conversion to Christianity only added another sacred layer to the already rich mystical traditions of the Inca and other native communities thus providing other divinities, such as Our Lady of Cocharcas, who could aid them in their daily lives. This monumental painting of the Virgin Mary within a familiar setting to the various peoples of the region was perhaps inspired by the popular fervor to their local spiritual mother—or Pachamama, Mother Earth. The Virgin Mary is as vast and sacred as the landscape; she is divine and under a baldachin with Solomonic columns which was reserved for kings and queens, as she is the Queen of Heaven and her Holy Child is the King of Kings as their crowns denote. Resplendent in their brocaded vestments, the power their image exudes could only inspire zealous veneration.
M.J. Aguilar, Ph.D.

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