SPANISH COLONIAL SCHOOL (PERU)
Portrait of Doña Andrea Roman de Aulestia y Cedreros y Gomez-Boguete y Monte Alegre
Oil on canvas
75 5/8 x 50 inches
(192 x 127 cm.)
La S.ra D.a Andrea Roman de Aulestia y Cedreros, Gomes Boguete, yMonte Alegre, Natural de esta Ciudad, Muger legitima del General D.n Ygnacio Vazquez de Acuña, Murió en 15, de Dicembre 1757.
Private Collection Bilbao (Vizcaya), from approximately 1910 until sold in 2010
Among the most striking examples of portrait painting in the Americas are the depictions of women in eighteenth-century Peru. These often life-size full-length portraits frequently contrast their subject’s reserved demeanor with the opulent dress and precious objects indicative of their wealth and social position. The identity of artist of the present painting is not known, but he was one of several talented indigenous painters active in Peru who drew on Spanish prototypes for his inspiration.
The subject of the portrait, Doña Andrea Roman, stands resplendently attired before a dark background. To one side a crimson curtain is pulled aside; it serves both to reveal the subject and to establish the setting as a domestic environment. Balancing it visually at the upper right is the coat-of-arms of her family. She holds a fan in her right hand and a rose with two buds –perhaps an allusion to her two children, Francisco and Josefa-Gabriela—in her left. It rests above an elegant console table, below which appears an escutcheon with a commemorative inscription identifying the subject.
The subject of the portrait was Andrea Román de Aulestia y Gómez-Bogute, who was born in Lima and married to Ignacio Vázquez de Acuña y Zorilla de la Gándara, who held the titles of Corregidor de Huamanga and General de los Reales Ejércitos. She prepared her will on November 16, 1757, and, according to the inscription on the painting, died on December 15 following. Andrea’s husband Ignacio was the great-grandson of Juan Vázquez de Acuña, one of the founding figures of Chile. Born in Madrid, he had come to Chile in 1576 as a Captain of a company of sixty men with General Juan de Losada. He subsequently became Mayor of Santiago before transferring to Lima, where his son Ignacio and grandson Juan José were was born.
The size, composition, and overall arrangement of the present work are strikingly similar to one of the most celebrated Peruvian portraits of the period: the Portrait of Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar (78 1/8 x 50 in) in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The two subjects are similarly posed, each holding a fan in her right hand, their arms close in attitude, defined as much by their clothing and jewelry as their features. Both stand in front of a red curtain backdrop and next to a table with an exuberantly framed cartouche below. The inscriptions on each are strikingly similar in both orthography and language. Whether this suggests that they formed part of a single series of portraits (although, most likely, by different artists) or that both conformed to an established portrait type is unclear. In any case each can be seen as a reflection of the sophisticated aspirations of criollo aristocracy in eighteenth-century Lima.
 See Caballeros de la Orden de Santiago que Effectuaron sus Purebas de Ingreso Durante el Siglo XIX, 2nd ed. (Madrid 1993), p. 10