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From the Andes to the Caribbean: American Art from the Spanish Empire

March 3, 2023 @ 10:00 am - July 30, 2023 @ 5:00 pm

$18 – $65

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Discover a more complete story of art from the Spanish Empire—and a broader definition of American art—through an unparalleled collection of Spanish colonial paintings.

The Spanish empire and its patent mercantile companies were the dominant colonial force in America from 1492 to 1832. Five years before Portugal established American settlements and nearly a century before Britain and France claimed land in the hemisphere, wealth from America’s colonial territories (viceroyalties) of New Spain and Peru made Spain the richest nation on Earth. Though Spain is no longer an empire, its colonial past continues to inform the art and culture of the Americas.

From the Andes to the Caribbean presents 26 paintings from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation—the premier U.S. private collection of Spanish colonial paintings from South America and the Caribbean—together with works from the Harvard Art Museums. The exhibition emphasizes three key themes related to culture and empire: the political and spiritual work of Catholic icons, the ways in which empire begets hybrid cultural identities, and the relationship between labor, wealth, and luxury. Oil paintings from present-day Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela are presented alongside works on paper and design objects made with Cuban and Honduran mahogany, Mexican cochineal, and Peruvian silver, underlining the great diversity of works of art broadly referred to as either “Viceregal,” “Spanish colonial,” or simply “American.”


Harvard Art Museums
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Horace D. Ballard, Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. Associate Curator of American Art


Harvard Art Museums
32 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
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