Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dressing Andean Spaces: Textiles, Painting, and Architecture in the Colonial Imagination

  • Author(s): McHugh, Julia Katarina
  • Advisor(s): Villasenor Black, Charlene
  • et al.

This dissertation addresses the striking preoccupation with textiles in colonial Peru. Both as luxury goods in domestic and sacred interiors and as a key focus of Peruvian painters, textiles demanded and received considerable attention in the period after the Spanish Conquest of 1532. Considering their importance in the Pre-Columbian world, I examine the ways in which textiles were uniquely valued, displayed, and conceptualized in the colonial Andes. Centering on Cusco between 1650 and 1750, I trace the evolution of indigenous textile types in an increasingly global colonial society, paying particular attention to new categories of textiles (tapestries, wall hangings, bedspreads, and rugs) generated by European tastes. While significant scholarship exists on Pre-Columbian and colonial garments, the study of non-garment textiles, as well as the spatial use of textiles in the Andes, has been largely unexplored. In response, this dissertation combines extensive archival research and first-hand examination of numerous textiles, prints, and paintings, including a well-known, but historically misunderstood colonial tapestry, and a series of thirty-eight paintings (c. 1740), today in the Convent of San Agust�n in Lima, by Cusco artist Basilio Pacheco. I conclude by investigating the dominant focus on illustrated textiles within Cusco School paintings, articulating a painterly strategy of textile embellishment used by indigenous and mixed-raced artists of the Cusco School. Methodologically, this dissertation reassigns textiles to a central position within scholarship, and endeavors to recover their original value, importance, and centrality in Andean culture. In contrast to previous scholarship, which has primarily focused on prints as sources for paintings, I demonstrate the complex process by which prints informed textile production, and both prints and textiles influenced the Cusco School of Painting. This study proves textiles to have had a much more dynamic role not only in Peruvian interiors, but also within the transmission of motifs across artworks of various media in the early modern period. By illuminating the tangled realms of textiles, prints, paintings, and architectural interiors, I offer a more nuanced view of artistic production and indigenous representation in colonial Peru.

Main Content
Current View