Power and Piety: Spanish Colonial Art From the Patricia Phelps De Cisneros Collection


Power and Piety presents 56 objects, ranging from paintings to silver candlesticks to bishop’s chairs, made in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies of the Americas from the late 17th to the early 19th centuries.

Designed for use in churches, convents and monasteries, and private homes, these objects were made by American craftsmen but based on the iconographies, styles and techniques of the European Renaissance. They attest to the tremendous interchange of cultures that occurred in the colonies, where craftsmen mixed native techniques and symbols with designs introduced by the church and also absorbed influences from across the world.

In the words of the collector, “Colonial society could be considered the first global society, with influences flowing in a reciprocal manner between Europe and South America, communicating the cultural news from Africa and Asia, as well as transporting artisans from one port to another who brought with them skills and traditions from home...the result could be seen in, for example, a chair that combined Renaissance-inspired gargoyles carved in the manner of Mexican Tlaxcala masks....”

The exhibition also highlights the ways in which people practiced their religion at home and in public, with tiny paintings of patron saints contrasted with painted altarpieces and ecclesiastical furniture.

The exhibition is drawn from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and is co-organized by the Museum of Biblical Art, New York, and Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia.

This exhibition will be on view October 14, 2017-January 7, 2018.

Sponsored by: Xenotronics Company • Thomas K. and Jennifer Figge • US Bank

Image courtesy of the Coleccíón Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Juan Pedro López, Venezuelan, 1724-1787, Our Lady of Guidance, circa 1762, oil on panel


Companion Event
Thursday, November 9
5:30 pm Reception
7 pm Scholar Talk: Dr. Monica Dominguez Torres