Oil on canvas; 67 1/4 x 43 1/2 in. (170.8 x 110.5 cm)
Gift of Loretta Hines Howard, 1964 (64.164.385)
The painting depicts a dressed statue of the Virgin of the Rosary, said to represent a miracle-working cult figure in a native parish in Guápulo on the outskirts of Quito, Ecuador. Mother and infant are linked by a particularly loving gaze and by matching robes. This presentation of the Virgin reveals how enthusiastically indigenous communities adopted the Spanish practice of dressing and otherwise embellishing sacred images, a tradition that corresponded to the Precolumbian Andean custom of lavishing precious textiles on ritual objects. Some Christian missionaries also encouraged a linkage between the Virgin and the indigenous earth-mother goddess Pachamama.
Many local Andean versions of the Madonna were venerated with particular fervor, and painted or printed images of such dressed statuesreplicating the altar context, rigid frontal pose, and ornamented pyramidal robewere widely circulated. The indigenous Cuzqueño painter of this image must have based his work on such a transmitted prototype.