Reliquary Locket "Tota Pulchra" Virgin Mary, Cuzco Colonial Painting 18th C.

Reliquary Locket "Tota Pulchra" Virgin Mary, Cuzco Colonial Painting 18th C.

Spanish-colonial Peruvian oval reliquary silver mounted - Inmaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary - miniature painting, oil on copper. 18th century, Cuzco school.


Reliquary description

Beautiful miniature painting oil on copper framed in a silver trimmed locket with perimeter applied cord with a glass on top protecting the artwork. The obverse has a cover made of copper. The frame in solid silver, although not hallmarked, has been acid tested for silver content.


This type of miniature painting is done with tiny brushes that had no more than one or two horse hairs and this one in particular shows the skilled craftmanship and talent of the colonial era Peruvian monk or nun who created it.


Provenance: Most likely produced in the Monasterio de Nuestra Señora del Carmen (Founded 17 December 1643).


Inmaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary "Tota Pulchra": The iconography of this artwork shows the dogma of the Catholic Church which states that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception. This particular represantion known as "Tota Pulchra", is derived from images of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. The Virgin is surrounded by the appropriate emblems of the Lauretan litany (attributes) around: resplendent like the sun, beautiful like the moon, heaven's gate, ark of the covenant, ivory tower, well of living water, mystical rose.


The depiction of "Our Lady",  finally established by the painter and theorist Francisco Pacheco in his "El arte de la pintura" of 1649 consist in: a beautiful young girl of 12 or 13, wearing a white tunic and blue mantle, rays of light emanating from her head ringed by twelve stars and crowned by an imperial crown, the sun behind her and the moon beneath her feet.


Pacheco's iconography influenced other Spanish artists or artists active in Spain such as El Greco, Bartolomé Murillo, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Zurbarán, who each produced a number of artistic masterpieces based on the use of these same symbols.


The popularity of this particular representation of The Immaculate Conception spread across the rest of Europe and the world, and has since remained the best known artistic depiction of the concept: in a heavenly realm, moments after her creation, the spirit of Mary (in the form of a young woman) looks up in awe at (or bows her head to) God. The moon is under her feet and a halo of twelve stars surround her head, possibly a reference to "a woman clothed with the sun" from Revelation 12:1–2. Additional imagery may include clouds, a golden light, and putti. In some paintings the putti are holding lilies and roses, flowers often associated with Mary.


Cuzco school: The history of the Peruvian Cuzco school type of art has its origins in the colonial era. The Spanish painters who arrived at the Viceroyalty of Peru taught their techniques to the local artists, and they began to shape on linen cloths their own representations, creating a new iconographic interpretation of the Peruvian reality.


The collected efforts of numerous artists gradually evolved into a unique yet harmonious and consistent style, devoid of individualism. These paintings are usually not signed, but represent traditional depictions of the religious subjects most important to the local indigenous and Hispanic populations.


Typical Andean Cozco school representation.


The figure, colors and overall composition present in the painting attest how Catholic divinities were adapted to indigenous sensitivity and given a singular representation that had its maxim expression in the "School of Cusco Painting" (La Escuela Cusqueña), during centuries XVII and XVIII.


Outstanding condition and beautiful patina. Wear and tear shows according to its age. 


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