of Artwork :
1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego near a hill
sacred to the Mother Goddess of the Aztecs. The next day,
an image of the Virgin combining features of a native
diety and the Christian Madonna, appeared on Juan Diego's
cloak, the source for all later images of her. In the
Virgin of Guadalupe, indigenous and European traditions
come together, and mark the beginning of Christianity
in the Americas.
such as the example of the Virgin of Guadalupe, were sometimes
made for wealthy households containing a small chapel.
Many of the paintings, like their European counterparts,
contained elaborate gold leaf details. Often times depictions
of the Saints and the Virgin were shown dressed in elaborate
clothing, indicative of the clothing preferred by the
New Spaniards. Churches and other ecclesiastical buildings
were so elaborately decorated that at one time it was
determined that objects for use in worship should only
be made of precious metals.
Technique or Process
painting is composed of oil paint and lacquer on a wood
base inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Mother-of-pearl encrusted
work was popular in late 17th century Mexico on this Virgin
of Guadalupe painting we find it adorning the floral frame
that surrounds the Virgin. Here, cultures come together
with the use of a Pre-Columbian lacquer technique combined
with Asian-influenced ornamentation. These same inlaid
techniques were used to adorn room screens and decorative
wall panels illustrating historic scenes.
the 17th and 18th centuries, Mexican artists created a
wide array of objects for use in the Roman Catholic Church.
Paintings and sculptures of Mary, Christ, and saints;
silver chalices and lecterns; embroidered textiles; objects
made from ceramics and feathers all played a role in religious
observance. Spanish, Moorish, Asian, and Pre-Columbian
art influenced the sumptuous, elaborate, richly decorated
Mexican baroque style these objects display.
of Art: Virgin of Guadalupe
Area(s): Art history and aesthetics
Time: Two to Three Classes (45 minute periods)
students will be able to:
the history of Christianity in New Spain;
the story and significance of the Virgin of Guadalupe;
and contrast images of the Virgin and religious art
to European counterparts.
of the Virgin of Guadalupe
of the Master of the Straus Madonna, Virgin and Child
from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston collectio
the Work of Art
View the Virgin
of Guadalupe painting.
do you see?
has the artist emphasized the importance of the Virgin
of Guadalupe in this painting?
Read the following story about the Virgin and Juan Diego:
Virgin of Guadalupe was a dark-skinned version of the
Madonna credited with bringing Roman Catholicism to
Mexcio's indigenous people who resisted the religion
of the invading Spaniards for decades. Worshippers believe
that the patron saint of Mexico first appeared to the
peasant Juan Diego in the winter of 1531 on a hill outside
of Mexico City. When Juan Diego told the city's bishops
he had seen the mother of Jesus, they did not believe
him. The peasant returned to the site, at which point
the Virgin told him to pick roses she had made bloom
on the hillside in mid-winter as proof of her existence.
When Juan Diego opened his cloak before priests back
in Mexico City, the roses fell out, revealing the perfect
image of the Virgin stamped in the cloth. The cloak
hangs today in Mexico City's Guadalupe Basilica. The
Virgin remains the country's most important religious
tradition and today more than 90% or Mexico's 90 million
people are Catholic.
you identify any symbols in this work?
do you think the artist chose to frame the Virgin with
a winding vine of flowers?
Virgin of Guadalupe is depicted surrounded by flowers.
She instructed Juan Diego to pick flowers in winter
and to bring them to the Bishop as proof of her apparition.
Juan Diego carried the flowers in his cloak on which
the image of the Virgin then appeared.
Describe the materials used in the painting.
the expensive materials used to create this painting.
How does the choice of medium, especially the costly
and laborious inlaid materials, emphasize the exclusiveness
of this painting and its subject?
Read the following passage about the influence of other
blending of the European and native cultures not only
created the mestizo (a mixture of European and American
Indian ancestry) people, but offered the opportunity
for the European monks to develop the utopia of a perfect
church, an idea that had been thwarted in Europe with
the Protestant Reformation. To carry out their work,
the friars preached and oversaw the construction of
churches and even founded cities. Entire communities
from old pre-Hispanic settlements moved from the secluded
hills to the new villages located near trade routes
and near recently founded Spanish cities. Fresh water,
European plants and animals, and even the wheel and
iron tools were introduced. Cities also offered town
councils and hospitals. Catholic priests learned indigenous
languages and wrote reports on the geography and customs
of the region. Christianity not only reformed community
life, but also became intertwined with native ancestral
rituals and beliefs.
Mesoamerica, a sizeable group of indigenous people embraced
these new concepts and religious ideas and forged cultural
links between the two differing groups. Although these
indigenous people assimilated European culture and images,
they still acted as guardians of their ancestral history
and traditions. They worked with the friars to spread
and reinforce Christianity, but at the same time they
wanted to present a positive image of the pre-Hispanic
artist who created this Virgin of Guadalupe, Agustín
del Pino, was a native New Spaniard living in Mexico
City. By examining this painting, do you think he embraced
this Virgin of Guadalupe with European images of the Virgin
and Child, such as the Virgin and Child by the Master
of the Straus Madonna located in the collection of the
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
are these two paintings alike and different?
did each artist include an "other worldliness"
quality to their depictions of the Virgin?
qualities and characteristics about the Virgin did the
did each artist create an image of the Virgin that is
uniquely their own?
the effects of religion on a culture. Research the Spanish
Conquest of Mexico and their acceptance of Christianity.
Did works of art, such as the Virgin of Guadalupe and
Saint James on Horseback reinforce the society's attitudes
about this new religion?
images of the Virgin of Guadalupe were created using a
mathematical approach to proportion called the Golden
Triangle. Research these rules of proportion. Does our
Virgin of Guadalupe exemplify the rules of the Golden