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The history of the Peruvian painting has its origins at 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 in its linen cloths its own representations, proposing a new iconographic interpretation of the Peruvian reality. The catholic divinities were adapted to indigenous sensitivity and gave like result an own and singular way that had its maxim expression in the "School of Cuzco", during centuries XVII and XVIII.
Viceroyalty style painting in Cuzco
Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Tahuantinsuyo Inca Empire, was meant to execute during the Viceroyalty, a role of first order in the universe of art. Heart and motor of the cultural, social, ecclesiastic and political life of southern Peru, during those three hundred years of Iberian influence gave shape in the architecture, altar-piece making, sculpture, gold and silversmith and especially painting a profile that defined the mestizo character of a tense and dramatic Hispanic-indigenous symbiosis which major expression was manifested in the great plastic current of the second half of the XVII century as well as the XVIII century that traditionally was called "School of Cuzco Painting".
Virgin with little boy
Author: Anonymous
Century XVIII - Barroco Style
At the moment of the conquistadors, it used to exist in Cuzco and the Empire, a great plastic activity that lived until the colony through painting in queros and ceramics as well as the visible testimony of the pre-Incas paintings in murals and textiles. In the first decades of the evangelization, the art was firmly related to the diffusion of the new faith. As a mean of expression that used to exert a particular fascination over the natives, the art turned into an extraordinary support to the self-taught explanations that found serious limitations in translating into the native tongues theological concepts and catechesis of Latin root.
In the XVI century in Cuzco, the pictorial art was influenced very much by the flamenco paintings and engravings as well as the painting of Spanish origin. Many important events for the art marks the last third of this century: the visit to the city of Viceroy Francisco Toledo 1572-73, provoked the making of four cloths painted by the natives, these cloths narrated in a style of iconography the genealogy of the Incas and scenery of Cuzco. From this era and until the beginning of the XVII century are several linen cloths or canvas that are evidence of a strong influence of mannerist style that are parallel with the diffusion of the mural painting in churches of the city and the country, painting that served to exteriorize the cult when decorated the external walls and support of the catechesis that was made in the interior walls of the temples.
Abraham Chapeyquen
'Harquebusier Archangel' (Réplica)
Oil on canvas
In 1583 arrived in the Imperial City the Jesuit brother Bernardo Bitti, who would leave a deep mark for more than a century. His teaching was to the base of the Peruvian colonial painting, in a contemplative manner, with a deep aestheticism centered in the human figure. He left several pieces of work in churches, particular houses and in the regions that were under the influence of Cuzco such as Juli, his Angelino de Medoro that did not travel outside Lima, but his gravitation was filtered through his disciples, among them was Luis de Riano. His art has all the characteristics of the style, long figures, deep foreshortenings, cold colors and sunflowers. Also Mateo Perez de Alessio was going to mark this beginning of vice royal pictorial art, active in Lima twenty-six years, he was the most important painter and with a lot of influence through his work, that seemed to be limited to this city.
The XVII century was the big era of the great masters of Cuzco style. These people were Diego Quispe Tito and Basilio Santa Cruz Pumacallao that were successful over other artists because of their technique and skills. They decorated the reconstructed buildings after the strong earthquake of March 31, 1650, having success under a great character because of his clergy tenacity and generous patronage: the Bishop Manuel de Mollinedo y Angulo who ruled the Church since 1673 until 1699.
Quispe Tito was the great painter of the Cuzco's baroque style. His painting was of rich color, of notorious emphasis for the landscaping and the incorporation of anecdotic details in his work. Santa Cruz Pumacallao, native Indian painter of Cuzco, developed a very correct style and sober as well, also showed a great plastic quality.

Next to the mentioned artists we can remember great followers such as Juan Zapata Inca, Antonio Sinchi Roca, Juan Espinoza de los Monteros, Martin de Loayza, Marcos Rivera and many others.
In the XVIII century we do not find the great artistic personalities of the previous century, however the "School of Cuzco" continues its influence, it even expanded further of the borders of the Viceroyalty. From this era is the pleasure, already extended throughout the century, of the act of "brocatear", which is apply golden paint over sparkles of holiness, clothing and curtaining, perhaps because of the mythical recall of the Sun. This period was known for the _expression of an art of the Americas, symbiosis and mestizo trend produced between the given by the European and Iberian art and the comeback of the values and also cultural and artistic concepts pre-Hispanic, still alive among the native and mestizo people, this could be defined as art of the Americas, in the sense that gave a new, common and peculiar art from the highlands of Cuzco until the lands of missions of Moxos and Chiquitos with the peculiar changes of each region.
With Basilio Pacheco, the "School of Cuzco" reached one of the great points. It was active in the second third of the XVIII century leaving work in La Merced, the Cathedral and Huamanga, although its main work was in the San Agustin Convent - destroyed now days -. Around this era was the increasing trend of canvas up to the "industrial" scale, because there are workshops that subscribe contracts that force them to make work in a agreed period of time, supplying necessities.

The fertile "School of Cuzco" declines with the end of the Viceroyalty, but the vitality of the three centuries would leave a great mark during the XIX century in popular plastic manifestations, that show in modest materials, all the strength and power of the religious iconography and of some profane elements inheritated from the ancient colonial centuries. This painting is, somehow, the continuation of the "School of Cuzco" that we admire so much.
Great Masters
Between the years 1890 and 1935 rise in Peru a generation of plastic artists that is distinguished by it's great versatility in the aesthetic field.The major of them searched new incentives, experiences and emigrated preferably to Europe charmed by the wish to study or improve their knowledge's.

Regarding to the modern or contemporary aesthetics, assume their representation distinguished personalities known worldwide and in Peru, formed in the most advanced culture centers of artistic culture of the world and in the most clear concept of the art as a creative and free reality.
    Among our most representative artists, we have Gonzáles Gamarra, Macedonio de la Torre, German Suarez Vertiz, Jose Angel Rozas, Carlos Quizpez Asin, Ricardo Grau, Juan Manuel Ugarte y Elespuru, Alberto Davila, Sabino Springett, Carlos Aítor Castillo, Teodoro Nuñez Ureta, Servulo Gutierrez, Fernando de Szyszlo, Amilcar Salomon Zorrilla, Milner Cajahueringa, Enrique Galdos Rivas, Venancio Shinki, Arturo Cubota, Victor Humareda, Angel Chavez, Oscar Corcuera, Angel Cuadros and many others that in a short term will enlarge the honor legion of the Peruvian painting.        
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