Instruments of Expression

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Instruments of Expression Quito's Creole Elite and Eighteenth-Century Nativity Scenes
Todd, Leslie E
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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Master's ( M.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Art History
Art and Art History
Committee Chair:
Stanfield-Mazzi, Maya
Committee Members:
Altman, Ida Louise
Hyde, Melissa L
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Art collecting ( jstor )
Art exhibitions ( jstor )
Art museums ( jstor )
Creoles ( jstor )
Nativity scenes ( jstor )
Political elites ( jstor )
Political reform ( jstor )
Rococo art ( jstor )
Sculpture ( jstor )
Viewers ( jstor )
Art and Art History -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
colonial -- creole -- quito -- sculpture
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Art History thesis, M.A.


Throughout the colonial period, sculptural style and subject matter was principally guided by the widely disseminated religious intention to inspire and maintain Catholic devotion. Without abandoning conventional life-size devotional sculpture, the School of Quito, a sculpture center for surrounding viceroyalties, witnessed the development of something new in the eighteenth century. Embodied in the Quitenian Rococo style and genre figures that alluded to contemporary colonial life, this new wave was most clearly evident in Quito through the many sculptures that comprised the nativity scenes present in both convents and elite homes.This thesis examines the significance of the late colonial style and subject matter of nativity scenes by focusing upon the reception of the expansive sculpture groups within their physical context, domains largely occupied by the creole elite (individuals born in the colonies of direct European descent). Through consideration of the implications tied with colonial ownership including identity, agency, nostalgia, and control, I suggest that nativity scenes were instruments of social and political expression for their creole elite owners during a period in which they were experiencing political, social, and economic vulnerability. By embodying the Quitenian Rococo style and presenting controllable microcosms with clear social roles and hierarchies, nativity scenes functioned to mollify the anxieties and artistically fulfill the desires of their creole elite owners. This examination focuses upon one nativity scene from the convent of Carmen Moderno as a representational example of the period to explore how the creole elite encoded the sculptures with meaning as it was particularly relevant to their declining social and political circumstances. ( en )
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Adviser: Stanfield-Mazzi, Maya.
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by Leslie E Todd.

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2 2013 Leslie E. Todd


3 Dedicated to my mother and father


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the chair of my committ ee Dr. Maya Stanfield Mazzi for her gentle, encouraging and accommodating guidance and mentorship Her suggestions challenged my analysis and always pointed me back to a deeper reading of the sculptures ultimately guiding me toward a more multifaceted an d dynamic argument I would also like to thank Dr. Melissa Hyde not only for her valuable input as a member of my committee, but also for introducing me to the intriguing world of Rococo in her fall 2011 My gratitude also extends to Dr. Ida Altman my third committee member, for her unique perspective and feedback as a historian of Ibero America Finally, I am deeply grateful to my friends and family especially my mother and father, who have lent me their constant encourag ement and loving support throughout my graduate career


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO EIGHTEENTH CENTURY QUITENIAN NATIVITY SCE NES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 9 Sculpture Production in Quito and Nativity Scenes ................................ ................................ 9 Contextualization of Art in Colonial Society ................................ ................................ ......... 14 Nativity Scenes as Instruments of Expression for the Creole Elite ................................ ........ 18 Historiography ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 20 Framework ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 21 2 THE LOSS OF CREOLE POWER AND CONTROL IN A CHANGING SOCIETY ......... 24 nian Society ................................ .......... 24 Changes in Economy and Fiscal Administration and the Impact on the Creole Elite ............ 27 Effect of Economic and Admini strative Changes on the Creole Elite ............................ 30 The Reaction of the Creole Elite to the New Policies and Changes ............................... 34 Shifts in Social Str atification and the Impact on the Creole Elite ................................ .......... 36 The Colonial Social Hierarchy ................................ ................................ ........................ 36 Changes in the Social Hierarchy ................................ ................................ ..................... 38 The Effect of the Social Changes on the Creole Elite ................................ ..................... 40 Concluding Remarks: The Wider Creole Elite Community and The Quito Revolts ............. 41 3 NATIVITY SCENES AND THEIR SOCIAL AND POLITICAL EXPRESSION ............... 43 Introduction: The Ownership of Sculpture ................................ ................................ ............. 43 Sculpture as Active and Real ................................ ................................ ........................... 46 Sculpture as Commodity ................................ ................................ ................................ 48 Nativity Scenes and their Conne ction to the Bourbon Court ................................ ................. 51 Nativity Scenes and their Connection to the Bourbon style ................................ ................... 53 European Rococo Sculpture and its Spr ead to Quito ................................ ...................... 53 Quitenian Rococo ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 57 Rococo style and Revolution ................................ ................................ ........................... 62 Nativity Scenes and their Display of the Social Hierarchy ................................ .................... 63 Nativity Scenes Expressing Nostalgia ................................ ................................ .................... 66 Concluding Remarks: Nati vity Scenes Expressing Control ................................ ................... 68 4 CONCLUDING REMARKS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 71 Intersecting Secular and Religious Realms ................................ ................................ ............ 71


6 Potential Topics of Further Research ................................ ................................ ..................... 72 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 73 APPENDIX: FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 74 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 76 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 81


7 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the Univers ity of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts INSTRUMENTS OF EXPRESSION: CENTURY NATIVITY SCENES By Leslie E. Todd May 2013 Chair: Maya Stanfield Mazzi Majo r: Art History Throughout the colonial period, sculptural style and subject matter was principally guided by the widely disseminated religious intention to inspire and maintain Catholic devotion. Without abandoning conventional life size devotional sculpt ure, the School of Quito, a sculpture center for surrounding viceroyalties, witnessed the development of something new in the eighteenth century. Embodied in the Quitenian Rococo style and genre figures that alluded to contemporary colonial life, this new wave was most clearly evident in Quito through the many sculptures that comprised the nativity scenes present in both convents and elite homes. This thesis examines the significance of the late colonial style and subject matter of nativity scenes by focusi ng upon the reception of the expansive sculpture groups within their physical context, domains largely occupied by the creole elite (individuals born in the colonies of direct European descent). Through consideration of the implications tied with colonial ownership including identity, agency, nostalgia, and control, I suggest that nativity scenes were instruments of social and political expression for their creole elite owners during a period in which they were experiencing political, social, and economic v ulnerability. By embodying the Quitenian Rococo style and presenting controllable microcosms with clear social roles and hierarchies, nativity


8 scenes functioned to mollify the anxieties and artistically fulfill the desires of their creole elite owners. Thi s examination focuses upon one nativity scene from the convent of Carmen Moderno as a representational example of the period to explore how the creole elite encoded the sculptures with meaning as it was particularly relevant to their declining social and p olitical circumstances.


9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO EIGHTEENTH CENTURY QUITENIAN NATIVITY SCENES Sculpture Production in Quito and Nativity Scenes In its last session on December 4, 1563, the Council of Trent affirmed that images could be used to support church dogma. With this recognition of the importance of visual culture in the dissemination of the Catholic faith, the inclination of Iberian sculpture to center around depictions of saints or the Passion of Christ was reaffirmed. These sculptures were re ndered in the popular Baroque style and made as lifelike as possible to inspire devotion in their viewers. Across the Atlantic in Quito, Ecuador, sculpture developed as an important art form beginning in the sixteenth century, several decades after the Spa nish defeated the Inka Empire in 1533. During this early period Quitenian sculpture strictly followed Iberian models in both content and form. 1 Although Spanish, Flemish, and Italian influence continued to dominate artistic creation in the Audiencia of Qui to through the seventeenth century, what was strict adherence to European tutelage in the beginning, became more relaxed as the century progressed. 2 (The Audiencia of Quito was the colonial administrative unit of which the city of Quito was the capital, es tablished in 1563.) The middle of the seventeenth century witnessed the development of a Quito School. This is evident in the less strict imitation of foreign models by mestizo artists, individuals born in the colonies of mixed Spanish and Indian blood, wh o developed a unique style of their own that matured through the seventeenth century and into the eighteenth century. 3 These artists brought a 1 ral Center's Lectures Program (Washington, D.C.: Inter American Development Bank, IDB Cultural Center, October, 1994), 2. 2 Ibid., 3. 3 1706): The Creation and Recreation of the Quito in Exploring New World Imagery ed. Donna Pierce (Denver: Denver Art Museum, 2005), 130 155. a Quito School has been used in concepts of indige neity or mestizaje. Her discussion brings up the point that the School in the current discussion.


10 fresh perspective to the foreign models. Within the development of a Quitenian style, production continued to fav or Church approved Baroque images of saints and Christ in the form of life size, freestanding sculptures. In their formal appeal to real life, these sculptures acted as devotional objects that aided in the positive religious ex perience of the viewer, ideal ly guiding him or her toward unbreakable faith. Nevertheless, the late eighteenth century sculpture entitled Salome ( Figures A 1 & A 3) demonstrates that something new entered the sculptural scene during the late colonial period. The biblical story behind the character of Salome alone illustrates a break from conventional sculptural subject matter. The Bible story begins with King Herod Antipas the Tetrarch of Galilee (not a true king but popularly referred to as one) arresting John the Baptist and imprison brother, Philip. Harboring a bitter grudge, Herodias wanted John killed for su ch harsh judgment. According to the Gospel of Mark, however, Herod knew John to be a righteous and holy man Philip. On his birthday, Herod celebrated extravagantly with a large banquet for himself, high officials, military commanders, and other leading men of Galilee. As a part of the festivities, Salome danced for Herod and his guests. Some Bible scholars claim this dance was 4 Herod was so taken by the performance of his stepdaughter that he offered her whatever she could possibly desire, proposing up to half his kingdom. Prompted by her 4 Ryrie Study Bible Expanded Edition (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1984), 1485.


11 5 And so he did, u nable to annul his earlier generous declaration made in front of his many influential guests. 6 Although her name is not mentioned in the retelling of this story in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the daughter of Herodias was instrumental in the death of J ohn the Baptist. 7 Salome appears in the Bible only as an instrument in the death of John the Baptist, not as a figure to be admired. Returning to Quito, the sculpted Salome was certainly not a character that would have inspired devotion in its viewer. The style and form of the sculpture also break away from Quitenian sculptural convention. Salome is dressed and coiffed in the alluring contemporary style of the Spanish Bourbon monarchs. Only about thirteen inches tall, her doll like proportions, rosy cheeks, bright blue eyes and pouting lips veil her in a cloud of innocence and shyness as she subtly evades the accurately, coy, alluding to the Biblical story of seducti on, manipulation, and decapitation. Not only does Salome similarly coiffed sculptur es, disguises its identity. Salome is one among hundreds of sculptures similar in size that compose an expansive theatrical setting ( Figures A 2 through A 5 Matt. 14:8 (New International Version.) The same verse would have been available in colonial Ecuador. The Douay Reims Bible, the English translation of the Vulgate, 6 Matt. 14:1 12; Mark 6:14 29 (New International Version). 7 c.100 CE), a firs t century Roman Jewish scholar, provides her name.


12 purpose as being to inspire devotion, it could be argued that perhaps the artists chose to disguise biblic al story. After all, her story indulges the imagination with themes of eroticism, voyeurism, and murder, though part of a sacred, religious text they are subjects that would certainly not inspire the desired Catholic reaction of unwavering faith and do not connect with the story of the birth of Christ. But why sculpt and create her at all if they were only going to disguise her? Furthermore, why take the time to put into sculptural form the entire house of Herod? 8 The use and existence of these sculptures c annot be completely explained using the same approach toward sculpture as that dictated by the Council of Trent and supported by the Baroque style, despite the overall religious theme of the nativity scene. These sculptures cannot be reasoned to solely ins pire devotion as earlier Baroque sculptures did, given their iconographic distance from introduction of new biblical themes indicates that they represent an appr oach to sculpture that is new and different; one that is not indebted to only religious motives. Salome is but a single example of many sculptures that compose nativity scenes that depart from the previously regimented pattern of sculpture dictated and exe cuted throughout Spain and her colonies. While life size devotional sculpture was not altogether abandoned, from 1730 until independence from Spain the new style witnessed in nativity scenes grew in popularity. It is a style many scholars identify as Rococ o. 9 The size of the figures decreased to the point of miniatures (ranging from 24 inches to less than an inch in height) and subject matter 8 ruling King of the land when Jesus was born, and in fact planned (unsuccessfully) to kill the Christ child. But Herod 9 I will discuss my specific u se and defi hapter 3.


13 slowly drifted away from saints and the Passion of Christ to include other biblical stories and even secular themes. 10 As they decreased in size, the figures increased in number and the small sculptures appeared in a variety of arrangements, in both altarpieces and crches. While also seen in other parts of colonial Latin America, this new wave was most clearly evident i n Quito through the many sculptures that comprised the nativity scenes present in both convents and elite homes. 11 Despite its core religious and devotional significance, the mid to late eighteenth century Quitenian nativity scene was composed of hundreds of charming, small scale figures that depicted characters ranging from baby Jesus to S alome to shepherds and courtier s. Biblical figures and angels intermingled with genre figures portrayed in the Quitenian Rococo style with rich, warm colors. For example, the nativity scene in which Salome is included, from the convent of Carmen de la Santsima Trinidad (known as Carmen Moderno) includes hundreds of small scale biblical and secular figures that surround and extend beyond the central scene of the birth of J esus to display the House of Herod, the Annunciation, and the visit of Mary to Elizabeth in separate dollhouse like structures. The central scene ( Figure A 2) and the additional dollhouse displays ( Figures A 3 through A 5), however, are all mounted togethe r and compose one larger crche; referred to here as the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene It is the meaning of these nativity sculptures individually and collectively in which I am most interested. I aim to understand what the style, content, and presentatio n of these new sculptures, such as the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene, meant in eighteenth century Quito. I propose that, just as Salome was used as an instrument by Herodias, nativity scenes were also instruments used by their collectors in the late coloni al per iod in Quito, Ecuador (though for 10 Gabrielle Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987), 111 122. Palmer claims that the decrease in size from life size to miniature is a gradual and i ncremental one. 11 Ibid., 112.


14 drastically different ends). The nativity scenes as a whole and the diminutive sculptures that comprised the scenes abided as instruments of social and political expression for the religious and secular creole elite, people of European descent born in the colonies. By embodying the Quitenian Rococo style and presenting controllable microcosms with clear social roles and hierarchies, nativity scenes functioned to mollify the anxieties and artistically fulfill the desir es of their creole elite owners. I will use the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene as a representational example to illustrate the subtle and conspicuous ways nativity scenes realized that role. Contextualization of Art in Colonial Society As art historian Kel ly Donahue the colonial period in Latin America. Objects of visual culture had a purposeful existence devoted to communicating the ideas found in their images, which were realized through decisive fo rms and styles, often teaching social and religious values. 12 Christ Crucified ( Figure A 6) is an example of a common sculptural theme repeated throughout the colonial period. Depicting a lifeless Christ hanging on the cross, it is conventionally rendered i n a strikingly expressive and violent manner through a dark and theatrical Baroque style. This typical colonial sculpture would have been created in such a way in order to stir people emotionally and push them toward feeling the pain of the real Jesus, as if the sculpture were the real man hanging before them. The swirl of emotion experienced upon viewing the battered and bleeding Christ would have been intended to generate devotion, directly involving the sculpture in the colonial agenda of conversion and maintenance of piety within the Catholic realms. In other words, devotional sculptures had religious, social, and political lives in colonial society, intended to strengthen Catholic culture and content of nativity 12 Kelly Donahue Wallace, Art and Architecture of Viceregal Latin America, 1521 1821 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008), xxiii.


15 sculptures illustrate a remarkable divergence from traditional devotional sculpture of previous decades, they too had a purposeful existence that communicated ideas in late eighteenth century Quitenian society. Furthermore, the art istic style utilized in realizing sculpture was not imposed in a superficial manner; it was a determined choice in the communication of ideas. 13 It is likely that the earlier Tridentine approach to sculptu re cannot fully explain the stylistic choices of the nativity sculpture. We must then ask: what does this new choice in style, evident in Salome, communicate? What was the role of the nativity scenes and their individual sculptures in late colonial Quito? These questions are aimed at examining the religious political, and social lives These questions are, however, ambitiously broad and could be answered in many different ways. To focus on a more narrowed component of the role and meaning of the n ativity scenes, I will concentrate on one aspect of their colonial lives: their ownership by creoles. 14 Understanding the role of ownership and what it meant to collect an object reveals significant ties between the owner and the owned. Who owned the sculpt ures, therefore, and how they displayed, viewed, and interacted with the sculptures bring us closer to understanding the ideas and meanings the sculptures conveyed to their viewers as instruments of communication. Considering the communicative nature and purposeful existence of art, it is clear that to own a piece of artwork was a decisive act that implicated the collector in the ideas and roles 13 In a discussion of the1994 essay by Rosemarie Teran on the art produced under t he sponsorship of the Virgin of selected within colonial society as a solution. An anachronistic iconography could correspond to a strategy of cul focusing on the anthropological aspects of art, which allow for new ways of perceiving the image as an instrument of power. Kennedy Troya 14 There are many aspects to the social and political lives of sculptures. Another that I touch upon in Chapter 2 that I feel deserves deeper research beyond the scope of this paper is the role of sculptures as co mmodities within the Quitenian economy.


16 associated with the work of art. The association between the collector and the collected is emphasized by Roger of his or her self. In their book The Cultures of Collecting Cardinal and Elsner explain that as the collector becomes conscious of his or her identity, that identity is projected onto the objects chosen to live with and collect. 15 With identity directly linked to the collection of artworks, the social, political, and religious significance of those artworks become linked with the identity of the owner as a matter of who he or she i s or wants to be. As a method of formulation or elaboration of identity, collecting provides a degree of control and power over the objects and the ideas they represent because they are used and manipulated by the collectors. Collecting, possessing, and di splaying objects, therefore, becomes an exercise of agency in the colonial period. 16 The ties between the owner and the collected artwork are deepened in the association between collection and agency. In general, the act of collecting can be defined by the attempt to accommodate, appropriate, and extend classifications and systems of knowledge. 17 Possessing an object thus inserts the individual collector within the system of ideas the object represents and allows that individual to dominate and adjust those ideas within his or her system of knowledge. This makes the collector an actor or participant in the institution or system of ideas associated with the object, giving him or her the opportunity or capacity to exert control or power over those institutions or ideas. The collecting that occurred in the colonial Andes was no exception to 15 Roger Cardinal and John Elsner, The Cultures of Collecting (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), 3. 16 Maya Stanfield Colonial La tin American Review 18 (2009), 340 41. 17 Cardinal and Elsner, The Cultures of Collecting 2.


17 this rule. 18 As Maya Stanfield collectors were arbiters of taste, formulators of visual culture, and molders o f discourse, whether 19 They were molders of discourse as individuals with influence over the collected objects and the ideas associated with those objects. cy and participation in political, religious, aesthetic or social discourse was facilitated as a result of the openness of the average colonial home to the public. Put on display in nearly every room of the house, including on would have been viewed by all types of people coming in and out of the home. This included members of the extended family, servants, colonial officials, priests, and other types of superiors, peers, and subordinates to the owners of the house in which t he art was displayed. 20 of people of colonial society. 21 In this arena, the association between the collection and the lonial period communicated specific ideas and purposes and collecting an object associated that object with with the meanings and institutions associated with tha t work and, in reverse, tying the work and connection to the m eanings and institutions signified in the style, iconography, and composition 18 Stanfield 19 Ibid., 357. 20 Ibid., 342, 357. 21 Ibid., 357.


18 of the work. As collected artworks, nativity scenes were instruments of expression. This was their role in colonial society. Their meaning is found in how they fulfilled this rol e. Nativity Scenes as Instruments of Expression for the Creole Elite The typical colonial collectors were often Spanish or creole men, including merchants, priests, and artists, among other social types. 22 Nativity scenes, in particular, were present in nea rly all convents and in the homes of aristocratic families. 23 Because the creole elite were dispersed among the convents and aristocratic families and are among the most typical colonial collectors, it is this group of owners upon which my argument is focus ed. This elite sector of Quitenian society progressively lost their foothold in society and politics as the eighteenth century progressed due to the economic, political, and social changes that occurred as a result of the Bourbon Reforms. The identity of t he creole elite owner was thus embroiled in these complex and unfavorable changes. Given the general ties between the collector and the collected object, connections can be made between nativity scenes and the tumultuous situation of the creole elite. I wi ll focus my argument around the role of nativity scenes as instruments of particularly political and social expression for this social group. While I acknowledge the religious significance of the nativity scenes as devotional aids, I aim to move beyond rel igious intention to understand their social and political significance as collected colonial art objects of validation and gratification. The creole elite used the sculptures as instruments to guide them through their social experiences in connection with their identity and agency. They encoded the sculptures with meaning as it applied to their own identities and lives. Both the style and subject matter of the 22 th Century 54. As Stanfield Mazzi explains, although the typical collector was a Spanish or creole man, native Andean elite and even women were also collectors. 23 nian Nativity Scenes of the 18 th


19 nativity scenes enabled the creole elite to encode such meaning. The creoles of the late eighteent h century wanted to return to the past, when they had what they thought to be a steady connection to the Crown and when their position within the socio economic hierarchy was stable. In other words, they wished to reclaim their former economic, political, and social influence and stability. The nativity scenes responded to part of the creole elite predicament of gradually diminishing power by embodying connections to the monarchy, as Charles III (1716 1788) was the figure that popularized them in Spain and the colonies. Looking at the individual sculptures that composed the scenes, the Rococo style, a style linked with the Bourbons, influenced the form of the sculptures and thus provided another connection to the monarchy. In this case, the form is the beare r of the meaning. Furthermore, in an unstable society of changing social divisions, the crches presented controlled and unchanging environments in which clear social roles and hierarchies were put on display. The elite owners of the crches, by virtue of possessing these objects, were seen to control these static environments. In sum, the sculptures had instrumental social and political roles of expression for the creole elite, made possible le they displayed. By owning the nativity scenes, the creole elite were appropriating and possessing the ideas conveyed through the style and iconography of the sculptures. As instruments of social and political expression the sculptures put into physical form the desires of the creole elite, and thus gave the creole elite agency by validating those desires within the acceptable framework of Christian iconography and prevailing art styles. My argument and general approach toward Quitenian sculpture is uniqu e in relation to the work of other scholars of Ecuadorian art.


20 Historiography Quito served as the primary sculptural center for the surrounding viceroyalties, reaching it fullest development during the eighteenth century. It is surprising to find, therefor e, that little scholarship has been devoted to the subject. While most surveys of Latin American art do not fail to mention Quitenian sculpture, only a handful of scholars have contributed focused examinations of the subject. Art historian Jos Gabriel Nav arro (1881 1965) was the first scholar to write on colonial sculpture of Quito, dedicating his lifetime of scholarship to the art of Ecuador. His 1929 book, La escultura en el Ecuador surveys all types of Quitenian sculpture, from choir stalls to sculptur e in the round, over the entire colonial period. Jos Mar a Vargas (1902 1988), a Dominican friar, was the next scholar to focus upon Ecuadorian art. In his 1960 book El arte ecuatoriano he devotes an entire section to sculpture and divides it according to form and function. Similar to Navarro, he examines retables, pulpits, choir stalls, and freestanding sculpture. Like Vargas, later scholars have written on Quitenian sculpture, but within the context of Ecuadorian art as a whole. Beginning in the late 80s and early five scholars, four based in Ecuador and one in the United States, emerged with studies focused entirely on sculpture from the School of Quito. In 1987, Gabrielle Palmer published her book entitled Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito in which she examines sixteenth and seventeenth century Spanish sculpture in the first half of the book and then moves to a discussion of Quito in the second half. Her study focuses on sculpture in the round, examining and defining the development of form in terms of the Western period styles of Baroque and Rococo. She defends such periodization by nestling the terms within Quito specific definition s. Spanning from the early 1990 s through 2009, historian Ximena iconography, development, and syncretism in sculpture produced by the School of Quito over the course of its existence, as well as its


21 production within the guild setting. Her publications have made the greatest contributions to the field. As the Ecuadoria n Deputy Director of Museums for the Central Bank of Ecuador, she curated in the mid 1990s and has been instrumental in informing the public on the subject. With a teleological and formalist approach, she explains the initial development of the sculptural tradition in Quito and discusses sculpture from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Finally, one of the most recent publications on Quitenian sculpture is by Xavier Michelena. His book, like the others, includes discussions of colonial history, artists, and styles, but stands apart from the rest because it includes modern and contemporary artworks. While contributing significantly to the field, the work of all of these scholars addresses the entire history of sculpture from the School of Quito, and does not concentrate on a smaller time frame. There has been only one study that focuses only on the late eighteenth century: a 1970 th briefly discusses the geographic and historical setting of the sculptures, her study focuses on s study most closely intersects with my own, but she does not address the social and political roles of the nativity scenes in their historical context. The current study attempts to respond to this absence. Framework As an era that has slipped by relative ly unexamined, I chose to focus this study on the late colonial period and the advent of the new sculptural size and subject matter found in nativity scenes. Despite the amount of available information on nativity scenes, I should mention one main problem I encountered in my research. I know of the provenance of the sculptures and their existence in the domains of the creole elite thanks to the work of other scholars. I was unable to


22 access any primary documents such as wills or dowries that might mention s culpture in order to of sculpture in the lives of the creole elite, and knowing with greater certainty the way in which the sculptures were situated within the ir daily lives might reinforce my conclusions. Despite this difficulty, I have been able to draw upon the work of Arjun Appadurai, Roger Cardinal and John Elsner, the above mentioned scholars of Quitenian sculpture, Maya Stanfield Mazzi, scholars of eighte enth century European art, and historians Douglas Washburn and Kenneth Andrien. Their scholarship and my analysis of the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene have led me to connect the scene to the wider genre of the nativity scene and its participation in societ y and politics as a commodity and collected art object. This study is divided into two parts that aim to build upon one another in addressing the role of nativity scenes in the lives of their owners in late colonial Q uito. It begins with my examination of the historical context of the sculptures in Chapter 2 This chapter provides background on the declining economy, shifting administrative positions, and movement of social strata during the period in which the popularity of nativity scenes rose. As we will see, these three factors directly and deeply impacted the creole elite, causing a sense of lost power and control in a changing world under the influence of the Bourbon Reforms. Next, Chapter Three opens by examining the presence of sculpture in the lives of its creole elite owners. I will then address the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene and its individual sculptures to illustrate how they connect with the Bourbon court and the Bourbon style. I will argue that these connections are sculptural expressions of the actual desire of the creole elite to renew their bonds with the metropole. The next section of this same chapter examines the way in which the nativity scenes illustrated the creole elite desire for control in their own domain within Ecuador. The ficti ve


23 microcosm of genre figures manifested that desire, illustrating a connection to the changes not directly controlled by the monarchy, such as the shifts in society. The act of collecting the nativity scenes and their idealized, fictive figures reflective of rigidly established social roles general terms, the collection of the scenes reflects a desire to control society. In the end, an important role of the n ativity scenes in the late colonial culture of Quito, as instruments of validation and gratification for the creole elite, will be elucidated. In the process, the questions surrounding the presence of Salome in the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene will be add ressed


24 CHAPTER 2 THE LOSS OF CREOLE POWER AND CONTROL IN A CHANGING SOCIETY In order to understand the way in which the creole elite used the nativity scenes as instruments of political and social expression, it is first necessary to introduce their situation during the late colonial period. This period, just before the dawn of independence from Spain, was a complex time characterized by many changes in society. Unfortunately for the creole elite in Quito, these were changes that had negative consequences, destroying their previous dominance in the economy, administration, and society. Though a brief overview of many complicated issues, as this chapter unfolds it will become evident that the administrative and fiscal reforms enacted by the Bourbon monarchy exacerbated a failing textile economy and perpetuated socio economic shifts in the population. Over the course of several decades, the foundation of life for the creole elite crumbled benea th their feet. These aggravations ushered in a sense of helplessness and frustration, leading them down an uncertain path toward the Revolts of 1809 and 1810, precursors to independence from Spain. In 1700, King Philip V took his place on the Spanish thro ne, ending the Hapsburg dynasty and beginning a long reign of Bourbons in the Spanish monarchy. During this early period of Bourbon rule there was an attempt to return to the glory of the Golden Age of Ferdinand and Isabella and Charles V. The goal was to modernize the empire and return it to the status of a dominating world power, a position since lost to war, depopulation, and other crises. The continuity of rule throughout the empire, based on French ideas of royal absolutism, was one of the main princip les used to lead the monarchy toward that goal. 1 This meant tightening the 1 1760 2, u/docview/303333884.


25 reins over the colonies. Along with the concept of royal absolutism, Colbertian mercantilism, imperial decline. Mercantilist policies focused on maximizing profit and potential. In terms of 2 The early years of Bourbon rule focused on using the principles of royal absolutism and merca ntilism to reform peninsular Spain. Around the 1740s, the reforms began to be extended across the Atlantic. 3 This early Bourbon reign only subtly affected its colonial subjects. Major changes did not occur in the colonies until the more drastic and impactf ul reforms of Charles III (r. 1759 1788). The reforms reached their pinnacle under Charles III largely due to one important event: in 1762 the British captured and held Havana for ten months, a strategic stronghold in the Seven such a disastrous temporary loss for Spain, colonial defenses were increased. The monarchy responded to the cost of the increased military expenditures by turning to colonial reforms. 4 Under the principles of mercantilism centered on maximizing profit, the new expenditures were paid for by imposing new taxes and attempting to weaken contraband commerce and the influence of foreign merchants over trade within the empire. In addition, the Crown tightened control over administrators, assumed direct responsibil ity over previously contracted activities, and extended Crown monopolies to include tobacco, playing cards, and gunpowder. 5 All of these changes were focused on increasing revenue receipts and causing a 2 Ibid., 132. 3 Ibid., 51 52, 132. 4 Journal of Latin American Studies 41, 4 (Nov 2009): 637; Mark A. Burkholder and Lyman L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 257. Although Havana and Manila returned to Spain after British occupation, Burkholder explains that the loss of Florida underlined 5 ; Burkholder and


26 professionalization of the bureaucracy. 6 In the end, mercantilism and royal absolutism and shaped by military and fiscal necessities. The administrative and economic reforms were therefore intertwined. The opinions of citizens throughout the Spanish colonies were not factored into the Bourbon decisions, nor was their well being. Quito, despite its declining textile economy, was no exception. Before discussing the effects of the later reforms on the Audiencia of Quito, it is first necessary to understand the structu re of the province and the general situation of the creole elite. The social system was well defined, based on race and wealth, and closely related to the economy, with the peninsular and creole elite at the top of the hierarchy and black slaves at the bo and textile workshops, and generally had one home in a rural setting and one in an urban setting with a store to sell textiles or food from the rural estates. 7 The creole elite led comfortable lives rich in material goods an d social power. T heir wealth and social prestige were directly tied to the textile economy and municipal administration, two things the later Bourbon reforms transformed in favor of the imperial m ission. As Douglas Washburn explains, at the beginning of Bourbon rule, the creole elite did not feel that the Spanish crown was intruding upon their world and accepted change as inevitable. Washburn further explains that over the course of the century, h owever, their economic and political authority was seriously undermined. With limited access to the royal offices, fewer connections with relevant officials, and consequently ignored protests, the administrative and Johnson, Colonial Latin America 259. 6 Colonial Latin America, 259. Th e professionalization of bureaucracy increased the number of bureaucrats, and in turn unintentionally raised the cost of administration, adding an extra expenditure before the money could be dispersed to the rest of the empire. 7 Ibid., 10.


27 fiscal reforms under Charles III after 1 762 decreased the economic and social influence of the creole elite. 8 These changes occurred during a time when the failing textile economy had already risen their anxiety. All of this made the threat of the lower classes (composing the majority of the pop ulation) overtaking the creole elite in a social revolution an ever present paranoia. 9 Economically, socially, and politically, the lives of the creole elite were affected by the Bourbon Reforms. Changes in Economy and Fiscal Administration and the Impact on the Creole Elite After the late sixteenth century and into the eighteenth century, the core of the economy of the Audiencia of Quito was the woolen textile market of the north central highlands. 10 Before 1700, this textile based economy prospered due to the demand for Quitenian textiles within the Viceroyalty of Peru. The dependency on textile trade with Peru is reflected in the fact that silver received from Peru was the only source of currency in Quito. 11 It is likely that sculptures from the School of Quito were engaging with this proud Quitenian textile economic legacy. Many sculptures such as Salome were dressed in real clothing. Other sculptures that were not dressed Sain t Joseph ( Figure A 7) mass of voluminous and undulating drapes and folds heighten the impression of movement while ng combination of the gilded organic pattern on the gown and bright floral pattern on the outer shawl. It is clear that Saint Joseph would not have worn such opulent garments in his lifetime. This display alludes to both the 8 Ibid., 13 14 44. 9 Ibid., 44. 10 11 42.


28 Quitenian textile legacy. Before the reforms of later Bourbon rule began impacting the Quitenian economy, the Bourbon accession to the throne had indirect and immediate consequences. Beginning in 1700, Spanish American commerce became dominated by the French and later the English. 12 The French had a stronger ability to trade with the Spanish colonies once the Bourbons gained the throne. 13 Contraband European textiles arrived in Lima and indirectl y began driving down 14 The Quitenian creole elite could not compete with the European goods that were produced and transported at lower costs and were more valued by customers for their higher quality. While the negative effects devel oped over time, what resulted was a currency scarcity in Quito, something the producers of textiles in Quito recognized as being due to European imports. As Washburn states, because nearly all production for the monetary economy was either directly or indi rectly associated with the textile market, the decline of the textile industry meant the decline of the overall economy. 15 Despite an awareness of the collapsing economy by 1750, a series of Free Trade decrees that slowly legalized foreign imports and expor ts between 1728 and 1778 illustrate that the monarchy was unconcerned about the colonial 12 Ibid., 24. 13 Ibid., 25. 14 As I mentioned earlier, the Spanish Crown attempted to curtail foreign contraband in order to incr ease the profit of the empire. Their attempts to stop contraband trade were not tied to their concern about the Quitenian economy, and goods from other European powers. 15 44.


29 hardship. 16 By the 1770s, competition with European imports and textile mills in Peru, as well as nomic recession. 17 Jos Garca de Len y Pizarro, appointed president of the Audiencia in 1778, enacted many changes that took specific steps toward overcoming revenue problems that resulted from uneven economic development in the Audiencia. His plan create d a new network of tax offices, expanding bureaucratic power to unprecedented levels in a new system with more direct peninsular administration. 18 Heavy fiscal exactions increased government revenues by pulling tax money from the coast and southern highland s and putting it into the Quito treasury, whose revenues shot up from under 746,000 pesos between 1765 and 1769 to 2,500,000 pesos between 1785 and 1789. This level of tax increases further weakened the already declining economy. 19 The money extracted was u sed in part to meet local bureaucratic needs (including salaries for the increased number of bureaucrats), and then the rest was either sent to Cartagena (to support its defenses as a port city) or back to Spain. 20 While the early economic problems develope d from non directed change, the later directed changes such as the free trade decrees, expanded bureaucratic system, and heavy taxes removed money from the Audiencia and further wrecked the economy. 21 It is clear that these 16 17 18 24. The previous system used since the sixteenth century involved a third party individual (associated neither with the crown nor the people paying the taxes) that rented the right to collect tax f unds for the Crown for a specific time period. Whatever funds exceeded the amount owed to the monarchy became personal gain. The reformers realized they would profit more by paying the salaries of bureaucrats to collect the funds rather than allowing third party individuals to collect them and keep what was left over. 19 51. 20 Ibid., 651. 21 Ibid., 101 102.


30 maneuvers were not concerned with improving the Quitenian economy, but were rather driven by mercantilism to extract the greatest profit from the Audiencia for the empire. The new bureaucrats appointed under Garca Pizarro tended to be peninsulars rather than creoles, thus reducing creole 22 Effect of Economic and Administrative Changes on the Creole Elite Because the wealth and power of the creole elite corresponded with the textile economy, fiscal administration, and municipal administratio n, the Bourbon reform measures deeply impacted them. Much of their money was tied to the declining textile market, so by 1760 they were either struggling or on the cusp of struggling. Meanwhile, the administrative changes on the whole barred them from bein g able to make efforts to regain their position. They were now fighting an uphill battle to maintain the power and influence that was practically handed to them during the Habsburg reign and even in the early decades of Bourbon reign. What was once easy be came challenging. Despite this, a degree of what they once had was maintained, evident in their relative control of municipal positions and the maintenance of a consumerist, elitist lifestyle. When the reforms of Garca Pizarro expanded the fiscal administ ration, there was a royal injunction against any treasury official also holding a municipal position, tying together economic and administrative changes. This was a determined move toward limiting the local influence over royal positions. 23 Andrien points o ut, however, that in order to maintain personal control over almost every agency, Garca Pizarro filled new bureaucratic posts with family relations and political allies from both the peninsular and creole elite classes. 24 The money 22 Ibid., 100. 23 Ibid., 124. 24


31 transferred from the coa st and southern highlands that paid their bureaucratic salaries allowed them to live above their means and purchase consumer goods. 25 This explains how the creole as the following quote by Francisco Javier Eugenio de Santa Cruz y Espejo demonstrates, sculpture was more tha n a consumer good in eighteenth century Quito; it participated in the Quitenian economy as a commodity. Eugenio Espejo (d. 1795) was a doctor an d late colonial political figure with a long and varied literary career directed toward mocking ecclesiastical and secular authority and making light of society. 26 In 1792 in the journal for the Sociedad Patritica de Amigos del Pas (Patriotic Society of F riends of the Country) entitled Las Primicias de la Cultura de Quito, of which Espejo was the editor, he wrote: Podemos decir, que hoy no se han conocido tampoco los principios y las reglas; pero hoy mismo veis cuanto afina, pule y acerca a la perfecta i mitacin, el famoso Caspicara sobre el mrmol y la madera como Cortez sobre la tabla y el lienzo. Estos son acreedores a vuestra celebridad, a vuestros premios, a vuestro elogio y proteccin. Diremos mejor: nosotros todos estamos interesados en su alivio, prosperidad y conservacin. Nuestra utilidad va a decir en la vida de estos artistas; porque decidme seores, cul, en este tiempo calamitoso es el nico, ms conocido recurso que ha tenido nuestra Capital para atraerse los dineros de las otras provincias vecinas? Sin duda que no otro que el ramo de las felices producciones de las dos artes mas expresivas y elocuentes, la escultura y la pintura. ¡Oh, cuanta necesidad entonces de que al momento elevndoles a maestros directores a Cortez y Caspicara, los emp ee la Sociedad al conocimiento mas ntimo de su arte, al amor noble de querer inspirarle a sus discpulos, y al de la perpetuidad de su nombre! 27 25 Ibid., 651. 26 27 Xavier Michelena, 200 a os de escultura quite a (Quito: Citymarket 2007) 66. Emphasis is my own. My but this very day you all see how much the famous Caspicara through marble and wood and the famous Cortez through board and canvas polish, its usefulness is going to be associated with these artists; because tell me gentlemen, what, in this calamitous time, is the only most we ll known resource that our Capital has had in order to attract money from other neighboring


32 academy so tha t the genius of Francisco Javier Corts y Alcocer (Cortez) and Manuel Chili (Caspicara) not be lost, but rather be passed down to pupils, enabling their legacies to live on and continue benefitting Quito. 28 Saint Josep h ( Figure A 7) tone at the notion of losing his legacy. The sculptor has captured a tender moment between Joseph and the Christ child in his arms, as the child d elicately reaches up to either caress by the frozen movement of the two figures, emphasized through the sinuous composition ad and rolling through the body down to the bent knee. In the middle of a counterbalancing sway to the side as the figure appears to be preparing to stride forward. Caspicara heightens the sentimentality of the scene by rendering the two figures with ideally smooth skin, perfectly placed curls, and fleshy, round forms, giving them the doll like quality characteristic of his work. What is noteworthy for this d Caspicara specifically, and the arts of painting and sculpture generally, as the only resources that tim into the Audiencia at a crucial moment when the textile based economy was collapsing. In this provinces? Without a doubt, none other than the branch of happy productions of the two most expressive and eloquent arts: sculpture and painting. Oh, how necessary is it therefore that at the moment of promoting Cortez and its students, and to the love of the perpetuity of its name. 28 Ricardo Martn, ed., Arte de Ecuador siglos XVIII XIX (Quito: Salvat Editores Ecuatoriana, 1977), 67 68.


33 sense it was a commodity, a useful product with economic value tha t was bought and sold. The commodity, however. As mentioned, Las Primicias was the journal for the Sociedad Patritica de Amigos del Pas for Quito founded on November 30, 1791. 29 Membership included the President of the 30 Although the journal was suppressed due to its progressive tone after only four months recognition of sculpture would have reached vast numbers of creole elite in Quito. 31 Given the concern of the creole elite over their lost influence and control, it is not likely that the y would have missed the opportunity to buy and own sculptures as commodities and thus become contributing participants in the changing economic system. As I will explain in C hapter 3 this economic relevance of sculpture shaped the reception of nativity sc enes by the creole elite. In the end, money was a tangible thing that could be gained through different means, allowing the creole elite to buy sculpture and other commodities and participate in the economic system. The intangible political and social infl uence of the creole elite in the Audiencia of Quito was not so easily regained. After all, weakened influence of the creole elite was one of the goals of reform efforts, motivated by imperial principles of royal absolutism, while their economic 29 internal dissention, government repression, and the impr isonment of Espejo. He also concludes that, despite its short existence, the Sociedad assisted in the formation of a sense of unity among the creole elite that was one contributing factor that led them to the Revolts of 1809 and 1810. 30 31 Ibid.


34 misfortune was not. This illustrates how the creole elite were able to own sculptures and why they looked to them to validate their anxieties and artistically fulfill their hopes. The Reaction of the Creole Elite to the New Policies and Changes Negatively impacted fr om many different directions, the creole elite naturally opposed the Bourbon reforms. As a conservative socio economic class tied to traditionalism and fearful of the social change that might develop from a revolution, however, they were burdened by an int ermediary position that tempered their oppositional reaction. 32 They were caught between opposing the decisions of the crown and trying to maintain alignment with the Crown. In the end, the change they wanted was not forward moving, but rather a return to t he past when they enjoyed the socio economic and political influence that came to them with ease. The creole elite supported the Crown because that royal authority meant the absence of social upheaval. While the formal protests they presented to the munici pal council demonstrate their frustrations, they and mercantilist policies silenced the voices of concern raised by colonial subjects. 33 In addition, the creole elite were too slow to recognize the extent to which they would be negatively affected by the Reforms. 34 An event that clearly illustrates the traditionalist position of the creole elite is the Alcabalas Revolt in Quito of 1765. A decision was made in 176 4 to begin direct royal administration of sales tax and create a new administration of the liquor monopoly under D. Juan Daz de Herrera. In May and June of 1765, riots broke out in Quito in which thousands of people burned the tax collection house, broke into and looted liquor stores, and destroyed the belongings 32 33 Ibid., 208. 34 Ibid., 3.


35 of Herrera, his family, and his employees. 35 Contemporary military personnel characterized the European. 36 The revolts led to the establishment of a popular government for one ye ar until, weakened by divisions between creoles and lower classes, royal troops overtook the city in September of 1766 and the royal Audiencia was reestablished. 37 The role of the municipal council during these revolts is representative of the position of t he creole elite. In December of that year, the municipal council petitioned the viceroy for the sales tax and liquor administrations not to be employed, thus illustrating their opposition. During the riots, however, several members of the council were lea ders in defense of royal interests, defending the city against the lower classes. 38 The actions of the municipal council illustrate both an opposition establishment of the Audiencia, the institutions of the colonial state remained weak. 39 This explains why, though the creole elite opposed the changes imposed by Garca Pizarro, they praised his ability to maintain order in the Audiencia while riots were occurring in the to wn of Otavalo and elsewhere. 40 In the end, the creole elite were stuck. They were pulled in two directions, between opposition to and alignment with Spain. This left them in an unprecedented frustrated and powerless position. 35 Ibid., 171. 36 Ibid., 172. 37 38 77. 39 40


36 Shifts in Social Stratificatio n and the Impact on the Creole Elite Toward the end of the colonial period throughout the viceroyalties, population increases and continued miscegenation began to threaten the social position of the creole elite. During the previous centuries of colonial r ule, the socioeconomic hierarchy within the colonies was based primarily upon race and wealth and secondarily upon occupation, corporate affiliation, and legal privileges. Race and class were most closely correlated at the top and bottom of the hierarchy, with creoles and peninsular Spaniards as the elite, and indigenous and African peoples at the lowest rungs of the social ladder. 41 Mestizos tended to be in an ambiguous position in the middle, accepted neither in Spanish nor Indian society. 42 The interrelati onships of different social groups were defined mainly on the basis of occupational collaboration. The Colonial Social Hierarchy The top of the social hierarchy was divided between the peninsular Spaniards and creoles. These two groups possessed the bulk o f colonial wealth and occupied fiscal, administrative, and ecclesiastical positions, with the peninsular Spaniards in the most important of these positions, especially toward the end of the eighteenth century. 43 Despite their similar lifestyles, the relatio nship between the two groups can be encapsulated in the fact that intermarriage between peninsular Spaniards and creoles was rare. 44 The creoles, the most important socio economic group among and below the peninsular Spaniards, were mostly members of old e stablished families, descendants of conquistadors and 41 Burkholder and Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 264. 42 43 Gabrielle Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito (Albuquerque: Univer sity of New Mexico Press, 1987) 62 ; 44


37 early settlers. 45 They consolidated their economic, social, and political power in the seventeenth century by rapidly acquiring more land and intermarrying for economic benefit. 46 While the creole elite w ere directly involved in textile production, above all else they were businessmen and hacendados plantation owners. 47 Their domination of Quitenian society was based on landholding, which made them the driving economic force in the Audiencia. 48 Since their educations rarely consisted of more than a few years at a Jesuit secondary school and private tutoring, the creole elite generally built ties to the colonial administration by buying important practical positions such as that of corregidor a colonial admi nistrative official, lawyer at the Audiencia capital, or tax farmer. With these positions they could receive money, favors, and preferential treatment. 49 While the creole elite viewed themselves as a class apart from other social groups, they did not have a strong sense of unity. Their primary forum for expressing views as a group was the local municipal council. 50 An estate manager who took care of daily business generally mediated their contact with lower socio economic groups, further isolating them as a c lass apart from all others. 51 They did, however, interact with the indigenous or African people that would have served as servants in their haciendas and households. 52 45 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 46 Arte de la Real Audiencia de Quito, siglos XVII XIX: patronos, corporaciones y comunidades (Quito: Editorial Nerea S.A., 2002), 25. 47 48 Ibid., 36 37. 49 Ibid., 11 12, 37. 50 Ibi d., 13. 51 Ibid., 10. 52 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 62.


38 The second social group down in the hierarchy from the elite was the mixed races. This gro up was larger in size than the elite but smaller than the native Andeans and characterized by economic, racial, and cultural heterogeneity. 53 This group had a strong presence in the urban environment and was involved in the sector of services that included jobs ranging from artisan to mule driver. This middle group could also obtain occupations such as official, priest, and local merchant. 54 They interacted with other social classes on a daily basis given their strong urban presence and variety of collaborati ve occupations, yet, as I mentioned above, were not accepted within the Spanish or indigenous societies. The final and lowest social groups were indigenous and African peoples, as individuals of prosperity. Despite their being relegated in colonial society and politics, as the demographic majority in Quito, native Andeans took on additional roles beyond tasks associated with the mita system. Artisans of the building trade, for example, were overwh elmingly indigenous and had more nuanced roles of artistic authorship and control in Quito than most scholars recognize. 55 Finally, whether enslaved or free, people of African descent, a comparatively small group in Quito, were at the bottom of the hierarch y due to slavery, racism, and poverty. Changes in the Social Hierarchy Although the hierarchy remained rigid throughout the colonial period, a population surge in the eighteenth century, continued miscegenation, and intervening Bourbon factors such as the decline in the economy and increased peninsular presence disrupted the size and nature of the 53 54 55 Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 68, 1 (2009): 10 11.


39 0.8% per year largely due to increased importation of African slaves, immigration of peninsular Spaniards, and lower mortality rates. The population of the city of Quito rose steadily from 35,000 to 60,000 inhabitants. 56 Meanwhile, white, indigenous, and African people continued to intermarry and procreate, building new gene rations that amplified the mixed race social group. 57 The result of the increased population and continued racial mixing was a growing middle stratum between the wealthy, white elite and the poor indigenous people. 58 This middle heterogeneous class emerged a nd consolidated as an important social group due to its large size and participation in diverse social and professional settings. 59 The small but growing socio economic group of peninsular Spaniards held the most power in the Audiencia, threatening not only the political influence but also the prized socio economic status of the creole elite. As we have seen, as the economy declined, the fortunes of the creole elite also declined. This decrease in wealth along with the increase in fiscal pressure contributed to a closing gap between the white and mixed race social strata. 60 In addition, after 1750, more people faced downward social mobility. The great exception to this rule, however, race pulled them upward within the elite class. 61 56 Burkholder and Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 271; Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 61. 57 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 63; Burkholder and Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 275. 58 Burkholder and Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 265. 59 Colonial Latin America, 265. 60 61 Burkholder and Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 267. Burkholder and Johnson specify this situation for Peru and New Spain because their situations were different from the peripheral colonies, which were generally e njoying economic growth. Because the Audiencia of Quito, although peripheral, was an exception to this rule, it is logical that the downward social mobility would apply to Quito alongside Peru and New Spain.


40 The Effect of the Social Changes on the Creole Elite Although the different strata within the hierarchy began to morph, the foundation of discrimination remained rigidly based on wealth and race. The decreas ed creole wealth and growing underclass threatened to pull the creole elite down. Meanwhile, the growing peninsular numbers and influence also threatened to push the elite creoles in the same direction. This certainly would have forced them to tighten thei r grip, pushing them to further support royal interests in moments like the Alcabalas Revolt, when social revolution was a genuine threat to their already weakened and threatened socio and colonial consciou sness did little to help them. 62 The arrival of Spanish immigrants into the middle and upper levels of the social order, however, heightened their cultural distinctiveness and nationalism, pushing them to react by differentiating themselves within the socia l hierarchy. 63 By the middle of the eighteenth century, rather than adjusting to their reality, the Quitenian creole elite fixed on the outward illustration of their elite positions in three ways. They increasingly petitioned for titles of nobility in cases in which they descended from families of plebe gente de comn toward mixed race peop le by constantly referring to them as rebellious, lazy, arrogant, and illegitimate. 64 These are clearly three negative responses to the complex changes occurring in the nature of the social stratifications. They reveal the discomfort and frustration of a th reatened creole elite that had nowhere to go but down in an unforgiving and rigid hierarchy. I suggest that nativity scenes presented a fourth, more creative expression of the creole elite situation. 62 63 Ibid., 26; Burkholder and Johnson, Colonial Latin America, 286. 64


41 Concluding Remarks: The Wider Creole Elite Community and The Quito Revolts Throughout the eighteenth century, the political, economic, and social power of the Quitenian creole elite was progressively threatened and weakened by Bourbon colonial reform measures. It is important to take this moment to remember tha t the creole elite were present in both religious and secular realms of society. The negative impact of the Bourbon reforms felt by the creole elite in the secular world would not have gone unnoticed in the worlds of both the regular and secular clergy. Th at is not to suggest, however, that the creole elite were unified. A 1746 town meeting in which local elites issued concern with the growing economic power of the ecclesiastical state illustrates a distance between the two realms. 65 Instead, royal absolutis m and mercantilism of the Bourbon monarchy led to inimical change for the colonial religious sphere. Events including the Jesuit expulsion of 1767 and the general reformation of convents illustrate attempts to curtail the power of the clergy. The experienc e of loss of power and control, though in different forms, was similar for both the religious and secular creole elite of Quito. Their situation in the 1790s, however, was slightly ameliorated. Because of warfare in Europe in the last decades of the eighte enth century, fewer goods were imported from Europe to Peru, increasing demand for Quitenian goods and improving the economic situation of the local elite. In 1809, however, when the Spanish monarchy was weakened under the Napoleonic invasion of the penins ula the Quito creoles saw an opportunity to revolt and remove the peninsular Spaniards. The early revolts did not intend to change the basic nature of society or the form of government. The Quitenian creoles, in fact, maintained their loyalty to the Spanis h crown. They simply wanted to return to the past when they were more self governing. In this sense, the revolts were conservative, guided by traditionalism and 65 67.


42 the desire to safeguard creole self interests. 66 Most of the creole elite of Quito did not survi ve the violence of the revolts to see their eventual failure in 1810. Those that did survive moved to other regions where a true independence movement with widespread support had begun. 67 The Quito revolts of 1809 and 1810 represent creole actions that wer e the ultimate culmination of an irreconcilable position. They were trapped between not wanting to change the social order or break ties to the Spanish monarchy and wanting to regain their political, economic, and social influences. They wanted change, but not revolutionary change. In the end, the Quitenian creole elite simply wanted to return to the past when they had more power and influence in all aspects of their lives, a time when it seemed as though their relationship with the Crown was strong and ste ady. Before the revolts, the creole elite used different avenues to express their frustration with this lived contradiction. Among the three avenues mentioned above were derogatory statements about mixed race people. Another form of expression was accompli shed through the ownership of sculpture. As we will see, the day to day interaction with sculptures as tangible objects, as opposed to the ephemeral spoken word, expressed the concerns of the creole elite in a more persistent way through its physical prese nce. 66 Ibid., 219, 238. 67 Ibid., 220.


43 CHAPTER 3 NATIVITY SCENES AND THEIR SOCIAL AND POLITICAL EXPRESSION Introduction: The Ownership of Sculpture In a sprawling display, the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene features several framed settings including a large central gilded niche and small er dollhouse like stages that extend to the sides ( Figures A 2 through A 5). Hundreds of small figures ranging in size and richly painted in a warm color palette occupy the open spaces provided by these platforms. In the central niche ( Figure A 2) they fl ood the space standing on mirrored stairs, hanging along the walls, and rising up in midair and along the rooftop. Meanwhile, in the dollhouses, the figures are neatly organized to fit within the miniature architecture. In both the larger niche and smaller dollhouses, we see a cast of characters that turn, wave, step, reach, and sway as if frozen in a moment, their shrunken forms arranged in a variety of asymmetrical compositions. The delightful, doll like figurines exhibit contented faces and tiny realisti c details in their attire. Displayed theatrically within the central niche, figures of Mary and Joseph kneel on either side of a chubby and rosy cheeked newborn baby Jesus, who lies on a richly adorned manger. Despite their centrality, however, these figur es are not the focus. No single figure is. There is very little empty space separating each figure, encouraging the viewer to be constantly engaged with the scene, moving from one richly painted, twisting character to the next. The overwhelming and expans ive quality of the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene extends to the characters represented, which include angels, biblical personages, and genre figures. The numerous biblical characters move well beyond the context of the birth of Jesus to include figures in the House of Herod ( Figure A 3) the visit of Mary to Elizabeth ( Figure A 4) and the Annunciation ( Figure A 5) The genre figures are ideally represented, vaguely alluding to different contemporary strata of the Quitenian social hierarchy. For example, th e contemporary


44 dress of the black figures represented in The Visitation scene locates them within the colonial period rather than biblical times when, based upon the social hierarchy, they would likely have been slaves or servants, thus alluding to the fam iliar colonial society. That position and reference to colonial life is further emphasized through the contrast of the black figures with the more biblically accurate portrayals of Mary and Joseph. This is a nativity scene with local flavor, combining the Quitenian Rococo style, seen in the overall asymmetrical composition and charm of the small figures, with secular subject matter, seen in the genre figures, which are casually inserted into one of the most important events in all of Christendom. Although p erhaps more expansive than the scenes displayed in the homes of the creole elite, this scene, as one of few crches that remains completely intact today, is representative of others in Quito from the same period. 1 They were sprawling displays that included numerous biblical and genre figures ranging in size from just over a foot to under four inches and realized in polychromed wood, the favored material for sculpture throughout the colonial period. 2 As social elites, the creoles of Quito were among those w ho owned nativity sculptures. While the individuals that owned and would have viewed this particular sprawling scene were nuns with limited physical contact to the outside, secular world, creole elite women were certainly included among them and, as briefl y mentioned in C hapter 2 would have also endured 1 This is not the only scene that is fully intact. A second sprawling scene such as the one described from Carmen Moderno is equally large and comes from a different convent in Quito known as Carmen Alto, suggesting that the nativity scene of Carmen Moderno is not unique in its compo sition, style, or size. Furthermore, while the makeup of the Quitenian nativity scenes is generally the same, we can assume that the scene from Carmen Moderno is perhaps more expansive than the average scene in the elite home given that it has likely accru ed more figures over time. The characters of many other scenes have been dismantled and put on display individually in different museums, making it difficult to imagine how they were displayed together in a single crche. A small privately owned nativity s cene exists in Huayoccari, Peru shown to me in a photograph by Dr. Stanfield Mazzi. This scene is much smaller than the crches of the two convents with only Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and two angels situated in a dollhouse structure. The figures are small and s imilar in style to those described in the Carmen Moderno scene. 2 Gabrielle Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito (Albuquerque: Univers ity of New Mexico Press, 1987), 124, 127 ; th 25.


45 the impact of the Bourbon Reforms experienced by the creole elite throughout the Audiencia of Quito. In other words, the particular religious role of the creole elite who interacted with this particular sce ne would not have stopped them from responding to the Rococo style and secular subject matter visible in the genre characters in a similar way as creole elite in the secular city. Quite unlike the religious devotional sculptures that more rigidly channeled reception on the part of their viewers, the introduction of the Rococo style and secular themes witnessed in the black figures from The Visitation, a s well as shepherds, a courtier and a fruit vendor from other scenes, meant that varied interpretations a nd receptions of the sculptures were an inevitability. The diverse subject matter of the nativity scenes must therefore be framed within the life of a particular group of viewers and owners. Although in their time the creole elite were not a unified group, from a historical perspective their similar experiences unify them between the secular and religious domains and validate their unification as a group within an overview of their response to the sculptures. While the nativity sculptures were certainly ae sthetically pleasing and had a role in the decoration of the homes and convents of the creole elite, there are two aspects relevant to ownership of nativity scenes that would have affected the reception of sculpture by their creole elite owners. The first regards the conventional interaction with sculpture during the colonial period and is not necessarily particular to the creole elite. The second concerns the wider social relevance of sculpture as commodity in Quito during the late colonial period and is s pecific to the creole elite experience. These two aspects help explain the specifically secular relevance and reception of the religious scenes as they are nestled within the eighteenth century context and new Quitenian Rococo style, and how the nativity s culptures became instruments of social expression within the domestic setting. Given the undesirable political, economic, and social


46 position to which the creole elite were gradually being relegated as the eighteenth century progressed, I argue that the co ntrollable secular figures and the Rococo style found in the nativity scenes were received by the creole elite as validating their fears and embodying the change they desired to witness in their own lives. Sculpture as Active and Real As a three dimension al object, sculpture in the round inherently has the ability to bring a past or fictional moment or intangible idea into our real, three dimensional world. Through the mass of soft bruised flesh, gaping, bloody wounds, sagging limbs, bony chest, and dark, sunken eyes, witnessed in Christ Crucified ( Figure A 6) dimensional world. This sculptural rendering gives physical pre sence to the conception of both real in the life of the contemporary viewer. In addition, the sculpture can be interacted with in the real world as an enduring ob ject with which to develop a relationship, making it active in the life of the contemporary viewer. As real and active for its audience, sculpture was recognized as an exceptionally useful tool in the post Trent agenda for the dissemination and preservatio n of Catholic faith. As a religious sculpture in a Catholic realm, in fact, each detail of the naturalistic five and a half foot Christ was intended to guide the viewer toward imagining a transformation in the figure from three dimensional object to the re al Jesus Christ hanging on a cross. This interactive and imagined relationship that developed through the shared three dimensional space thereby inspire pious devoti on. For nearly a century the intense and dramatic Latin American Baroque style, embodied in Christ was chosen to enliven and dramatize the scene, further heightening potential emotions and inclination toward piety.


47 The se longstanding precedent s of the real and active presence of sculpture in the colonies remained relevant for Quitenian nativity sculptures. As I explained in Chapter 1 however, the use and existence of the Quitenian Rococo sculptures, exhibited in the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene canno t be explained using the same approach toward sculpture as that dictated by the Council of Trent and Baroque style. The new sculptures of the mid to late eighteenth century were not realized with the sole purpose of inspiring devotion. The Goiter Ridden Ma n for example, is a genre figure of an ordinary man with two large goiters on his neck sitting on top of a large goat or donkey ( Figure A 8) The figure has no biblical or religious significance or affiliation apart from its presence in the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene. This does not mean, however, that The Goiter Ridden Man and sculptures like it were not understood as intending to encourage a relationship with the viewer, especially with the centuries long precedent of such a relationship as well as the lingering presence of Baroque sculpture that more explicitly condoned this objective. The Goiter Ridden Man and other genre nativity sculptures were active in the lives of people in different ways, affecting their secular lives in addition to their religi ous lives. than noble steed, the viewer would have seen The Goiter Ridden Man on a contemporary social level, contemplating ideas regarding the e in the social hierarchy beyond religion. Based upon this concept, new ideas and desires were put into three dimensional, physical form, being made real and active in the lives of their viewers. They held a place in the life of the owner where a new type of relationship could develop and mature. It is important to note that the connection to the sculpture and ideas derived from it were obtained on the part of the viewer. While the artist had the power to manipulate the expression of a religious idea throu gh the style employed, the viewer governed the relationship between the


48 sculpture and himself or herself. Whether or not it was a conscious decision to be spiritually moved by Christ Crucified for example, it was a commitment nonetheless. In this manner, the sculpture was an instrument that guided the viewer through his or her own reality and experiences. The increased freedom to depict a greater variety of biblical characters and even secular themes in nativity scenes allowed for freer interpretation on b ehalf of the viewer. (The ideas and desires obtained from the sculptures by their creole elite owners were therefore likely different from the ideas of viewers from other social classes.) The declining social, economic, and political situation of the creol e elite as well as their traditionalist worldview framed their reception of and interaction with sculpture, naturally leading them to consciously or unconsciously relate the nativity sculptures back to their own lives as active and real participants This concept is further emphasized when considering the connection between identity and the collected object discussed earlier. The creole elite, therefore, would have likely interpreted the secular subject matter and Rococo style in the nativity scenes as they applied to them, a reception that was vivified through the activating relationship between sculpture and viewer. Sculpture as Commodity The status of Quitenian sculpture as commodity is the second factor relevant to the ownership of nativity scenes that w ould have affected their creole elite reception. Nativity sculptures in the new style and subject matter arose when, beginning around 1730 until independence from Spain, sculpture in Quito flourished, making the city the sculptural center of South America. 3 Ranging in materials from wood, metal, tagua, ivory, and porcelain, the sculpture produced by the guilds in this city was distinctive in its highly skilled display of color and movement, earning it recognition throughout South America as well as in Spain Portugal, 3 Xavier Michelena, 200 a os de escultura quite a (Quito: Citymarket, 2007), 37; Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 65.


49 and Italy. 4 Such display is evident in Saint Joseph ( Figure A 7) by Manuel Chili, with its subtle S curve achieved through the contrapposto stance and its rich and varied floral polychrome surface patterning. With the completed opening of Free Trade by 1778, sculptors amplified their market, exporting their highly accomplished works to the Viceroyalties of Peru and Ro de la Plata, the viceroyalty that roughly included the modern day territories of Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. 5 It was during this time of a flourishing art market and failing textile economy that sculpture from the School of Quito became publicly appreciated and recognized as a commodity, as the 1792 quote by Eugenio Espejo illustrated. In his introduction to The Soc ial Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective Arjun Appadurai argues that commodities, like people, have social lives because they are appreciated as agents involved in exchanges of value and power. Whoever controls the flow of commodities has t he power. 6 7 As commodities, sculptures (including nativity scenes) in late colonial Quito were directly involved in these notions of power, privilege, and social control in c ontemporary society. Through buying and owning sculptures, therefore, the creole elite were inserting themselves within this system, whether consciously or not. Thus, the creole elite incorporated their ownership of the sculptures within the context of the failing economy and their declining social, economic, and political position. It seems likely that their reception of the nativity scenes 4 Gauvin Bailey, Art of Colonial Latin America (New York: Phaidon Press Inc., 2005), 302, 304; Palmer Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 5 Michelena, 200 aos de escultura quitea 39. 6 The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 3, 57. 7 Ibid., 57.


50 would have been interpreted within the terms of their ownership, which moved beyond the religious significance of Jes By viewing the sculptures as commodities, it becomes clear that they were more than aesthetically pleasing objects decorating the homes of the creole elite. As Appadurai states, ical point of view human actors encode things with significance, from a methodological point of view it is the things in motion that illuminate their human and 8 By looking at sculpture and understanding its status as commodity, it becomes evident that sculpture is particularly significant to study given its social importance in society. Through the focus of this paper on the way in which the creole elite as human actors encoded the nativity sculptures with significance, we have the potentia l to illuminate the deeper human and social context of the sculptures. Seeing the composition of the nativity scenes displaying genre figures that related to aspects of colonial life would have led the creole elite to think of their own lives. This would have been taken a step further by the secular context in which they were bought and owned, taking on a direct role in the lives of the creole elite. The response and interaction of the creole elite with the sculptures therefore would have led them to encod e the sculptures with significance directly based on their own personal experiences, experiences that were occupied with their anxiety over their decline in control and influence in the Audiencia. This, combined with the general concepts of identity and ag ency associated with collecting and ownership, is how the nativity sculptures became instruments of social expression. The creole elite saw in the sculptures a reflection of their desires enacted through the Quitenian Rococo style and clear and distinct so cial roles and hierarchies exhibited by the genre figures. The lost connection between 8 Ibid., 5.


51 the creole elite and the Crown as well as their firm position in the social hierarchy, which they wished to reclaim in life, was reclaimed in the nativity scenes, vivifi ed through the real and active quality of sculpture in the round. The following sections of this chapter examine the origin of the nativity scenes as well as their artistic style to illustrate how the creole elite would have visualized a connection with th e Bourbon court across the Atlantic. It then focuses on the depiction of secular figures of colonial society in the nativity scenes to illustrate how the creole elite would have envisioned a sense of agency within their own domain of Quito. Such conn ection s were made real and active in the physical form of the sculptures, and explain how the nativity scenes validated the fears and fulfilled the desires of the creole elite. Nativity Scenes and their Connection to the Bourbon Court Charles III is credited wit h popularizing nativity scenes in Spain and its colonies. 9 Their existence in the colonies can thus be understood as a direct result of the connection with the Crown. In other words, the nativity scenes were physical manifestations of a link with the Bourb on court. Such a link would not have been lost on the creole elite, putting into more detailed context the reason the creole elite would have employed the sculptures as instruments of social expression. Nativity scenes purportedly originated in 1223 when S aint Francis wanted to celebrate and honor the birth of Jesus with a tableau vivant a play with villagers as actors. As time progressed, people were replaced with large statues. These were eventually replaced by smaller statues grouped together on a minia ture stage, presented in churches and later in private homes. In the palace of Charles III in Madrid, the king had a special room reserved just for displaying an expansive nativity scene composed of hundreds of figures sculpted and painted on commission 9 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito th


52 by Spanish artists. The king then allowed the populace to visit his impressive crche. 10 Such a public display of the nativity scene and open invitation to view it led to the proliferation of nativity scenes in Spain and the colonies and their eventual popula rity in Quito. In Quito, all of the convents and many of the aristocratic families owned nativity scenes. They were most commonly displayed in a corner of a room or inside elaborately decorated chests. 11 It is especially important to note that Charles III popularized nativity scenes because he was the same Spanish ruler who intensified the impact of the Bourbon Reforms after 1762. His decrees and relationship with the colonies directly affected the creole elite of Quito with drastically negative results. O wning the nativity scenes not only connected the creole elite with the Bourbon court, but with the very individual who had contributed to the calamitous state of their economy and loss of control and privileges. An awareness of such a connection would have contributed to the reception of sculptures as they related to the social circumstance of the creole elite as we will see The particular arrangement of the sculptures in the form of a nativity scene was a crucial detail that enabled the sculptures to bec ome physical instruments that guided a theoretical connection between the creole elite and Charles III. In addition, the local types and humble occupations that appear in European nativity scenes also influenced the expansive Quitenian nativity microcosms. This illustrates another link across the Atlantic. These connections to the Spanish Crown support the argument that the creole elite would have viewed the sculptures as reflections of the fulfillment of their desires to return to the past when they percei ved a steady connection to the Habsburgs that allowed them to control their city and Audiencia because they deeply desired and searched for that fulfillment 10 Ibid.; Ibid., 22 the palace invitation. 11 Ibid.; Ibid., 18.


53 Nativity Scenes and their Connection to the Bourbon style A second way in which the nativity sculp tures enabled the creole elite to encode a connection with the Bourbon monarchy was by exhibiting the Rococo style, a style recognized as originating in France with the Bourbons in the early eighteenth century. Rococo grew and developed throughout Europe, including Spain, and eventually made its way across the Atlantic. The Rococo style thus connected the nativity scenes directly to both France and Spain. There are 6 to defame the art produced under Louis XV, and later in 1836 defined in an English magazine as term Rococo has proven as unstable and provocative as the art it 12 Depending on the scholar, it can be a stylistic label, period designation, or epithet of derision. 13 It can refer to cultural values, pictorial genres, and themes. 14 As a style, it can be limited to decorative ornamentation or expanded to inclu de painting, sculpture, stage sets, snuffboxes, and more. European Rococo Sculpture and its Spread to Quito The Rococo art style developed in the first decades of the eighteenth century in France and is often associated with the Regency (1715 1730) and the reign of Louis XV (1730 1774). 15 that Rococo sculpture upheld a basic formal language throughout Europe that included the replacement of monumental sculpture wi produced in Britain, France, and 12 Dictionary of the Enlightenment 465 66. 13 Ibid. 14 Making Up the Rococo: Franois Boucher and His Critics (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2006), 11. 15


54 Germany 16 All three of these sculptural characteristics can be witnessed in The Gardener ( Figure A 9) produced in the Bow factory in England in 1760. The figure is small in scale, of porcelain material, and depicts a picturesque, secular scene. It captures the moment in which the man has just stood, the momentum of the action pulling him backward, with flo wers gathered in a cloth tied around his waist. The porcelain material permits an airiness and delicacy while the man poses in an exaggerated contrapposto stance exhibiting a curvilinear form. It is charming and opulent, with every surface of his fashionab le attire copiously covered with flowers. Although all of these characteristics of asymmetry, prettiness, grace, and frivolity are associated with Rococo painting, their clear manifestation in The Gardener allows the work to also qualify as quintessentiall y Rococo. 17 Even before the final decree of Free Trade in 1778, European Rococo sculpture had arrived in Quito. 18 Small porcelain sculptures crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Quito among the contraband French and European goods that entered Spanish America beginning with the Bourbon accession to the throne in 1700, despite the ban on foreign trade with the colonies. The near duplication of The Gardener in the Quitenian Rococo nativity sculpture The Courtier ( Figure A 10) makes this quite evident. 19 The two m ale figures are both well coiffed upper class gentlemen that stand with a drape around the waist held up by the right hand to bundle loose flowers. Both sculptures face forward in an identical contrapposto position with the left leg 16 Great Baroque and Rococo Sculpture (New York: Reynal and Company, Inc., 1978), 26 28. 17 18 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 130. 19 th direct link between thre e European porcelain figurines and their Quitenian counterparts. This is an example of one of those pairs. In addition, this sculpture as well as The Fruit Vendor and The Shepherds are not from the Carmen Moderno scene.


55 bearing the weight of t he body and pulling the left side slightly back. The right leg steps forward, and the head turns up and to the right, leaving the body of each sculpture open and inviting of the le Rococo attire on display. Both figures wear a knee length coat buttoned at the neck that flares open to reveal and emphasize their garb underneath: a colorful patterned vest, coordinating knee breeches, white stockings, black buckle shoes, and a black t ricorne hat trimmed in gold grasped in the left hand. The similarities continue with the precise details in the attire, alabaster skin, and perfectly placed hair brushed back from the forehead. However, The Courtier is rendered in polychromed wood rather t han porcelain. It does not exhibit the same degree of textile patterning, and appears slightly less delicate, frivolous, and crisp than The Gardener This can be explained as the European Rococo influence remains evident. More sculptures like The Gardener would arrive in Quito and increase the popularity of the Rococo style when Free Trade was finally declared. European porcelain factories such as Vincennes in France, Meissen in G ermany, and Bow in England sold their wares throughout Europe, and many pieces were exported to the American colonies. In fact, porcelain became so popular in Quito that a factory was opened in 1771 that produced exact duplicates of European themes, exempl ifying a penchant for Rococo wares. 20 With the precedent of foreign influences as inspiration in colonial art, the introduction of this Rococo sculptural style in Quito directly 20 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom o f Quito 130 131. Although the formula for porcelain was a guarded Chinese secret, in 1708 it was finally discovered by Europeans. Palmer mentions that both the formulas for hard paste (true porcelain) and soft paste (when ground glass is substituted for o ne of the main ingredients) were used in Europe, but she does not specify which formula was used at the Quito porcelain factory. Therefore, when I refer to porcelain in Quito, my definition of porcelain broadly includes both the hard paste and soft paste f ormulas.


56 influenced the subject matter and formal attributes of the sculptures of nativi ty scenes, drawing a connection with the French Bourbons and referencing both France and Spain 21 When the Bourbons ascended the throne in Spain in 1700, the effects felt throughout the empire were not limited to politics and the economy. Changes also occu rred in the Spanish art community bearing entrance to more foreign influences, those of the French and Italians. 22 With Philip V (the grandson of Louis XIV) and his wife Elizabeth and later their son, Charles III, on the throne, court art witnessed a degree independent of native Spanish styles. 23 Localized in the royal palaces of Madrid and surrounding areas, Rococo themes entered the national style, promoting complex, asymmetrical rhythms and a break from re ligious subject matter. 24 The palace of La Granja, for example, is decorated with Rococo fountains and mythological figures by sculptors from the court of Louis XIV from 1720 to 1724. 25 In addition, the Royal Palace built in Madrid under Philip V has an inte rior that portrays a forthright Rococo style and dates from the time of Charles III. 26 This association of Rococo style with the Spanish court continued with sculpture when Charles III moved the Buen Retiro porcelain factory from Capodimonte in Naples to Ma drid. Most of its production served for royal use until 1788. 27 Neither the particularly Rococo material of porcelain nor the Rococo style were found as much 21 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 130; Bailey, Art of Colonial Latin America 2005, 305. 22 John Moffitt, The Arts in Spain (London: Thames and Hudson, 1999), 175. 23 Germain Bazin, Baroque and Rococo (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987), 211. 24 Moffitt, The Arts in Spain 176; Bazin, Baroque and Rococo 215. 25 George Kubler and Martin Soria, Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal and their American Dominions: 1500 1800 (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1959), 163. 26 Bazin, Baroque and Rococo 216. 27 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 130.


57 in the sculptural centers of Seville, Granada, Valencia, and Murcia. 28 This illustrates that Rococo in Spain was a specifically courtly style, brought to Spain through and directly associated with the Bourbon rulers. Given the monopoly on trade between Spain and its colonies, Spanish Rococo style would have undoubtedly found its way to Quito in the form of sculpture and other arts. Whether through Spain or other foreign trade, Rococo arrived in Quito, inspired the fruition of a new Quitenian style, but maintained an association with the Bourbons and the Spanish court through the awareness the creole elite would have had of its association of origin with the Regency and Louis XV This courtly connotation is plainly manifested in The House of Herod scene ( Figure A 3) Although a biblical scene, the colonial architecture of the dollhouse situates the characte rs within the contemporary period of the eighteenth century viewer. The king on the top central porch and surrounding courtier s and guards can therefore be simultaneously identified as not only those characters associated with Herod, but also the real mona rchs and courtier s associated with the colonies at the time, the Bourbons. This association is further detailed through the opulent, contemporary Rococo dress and ha irstyles of the female courtier s who comprise the majority of the figures in the small scen e. Where such an explicit connection to the Spanish court was lacking, the Quitenian Rococo style and fashion in the nativity sculptures still illustrated an artistic connection with the Bourbons. As contemporaries of the style, the creole elite would have been aware of such a connection. This in turn allowed them to see their desire for a more direct connection with the Bourbons fulfilled in the nativity scenes. Quitenian Rococo The Quitenian Rococo as it appears in sculpture is a unique style influenced b y France and Spain, but specific to Quito. As Kelly Donahue Wallace points out, it can be highly 28 Kubler and Soria, Art and Architecture in Spain, 162 163. According to Kubler and Soria, however, some artists exhibited aspects of Rococo style through varying degrees of sentimentality.


58 problematic to use period labels such as Baroque or Rococo since they tend to be Eurocentric in their exclusion of non 29 As scholars have grown to question the validity of period labels, she explains, they have begun to accept and explore the diversity of formal approaches as a manifestation of cultural negotiation. 30 The Quitenian Rococo enabled the creole elite to imagine a connection to the Spanish monarchy through the nativity sculptures in which the style was employed. It was a cultural negotiation on a social level as well as an artistic one. I choose to maintain my use of the term Rococo despite its We stern connotations precisely because the Western connotations underlying the Rococo style and subject matter were what carried meaning for the creole elite. The Quitenian Rococo is both a diverse formal approach to a style in a distinct context and evidenc e of a dialogue between Quito and Europe. It is important to emphasize that the Quitenian Rococo style is quite distinct from European Rococo on many levels. The new colonial context and distance over the Atlantic blurred, distorted, or perhaps even erase femininity and a corrupt Ancien Regime. Quitenian viewers might have also missed what, in Spain, appeared to some as the unwelcome incursion of a foreign style. In addition, the Quitenian Rococo had many o ther influences outside of Europe with which to contend. These included the generally stronger religious atmosphere of the colonies; Asian influence from across the Pacific; the recent establishment of guilds in Quito in 1741 and 1742; the series of free t rade decrees between 1728 and 1778 that opened the market for Quitenian sculptors; as well as the chronological anarchy of art in the Spanish colonies that allowed Rococo to persist in Quito 29 Kelly D onahue Wallace, Art and Architecture of Viceregal Latin America, 1521 1821 (Albuquerque: Univer sity of New Mexico Press, 2008) xxii xxiii. 30 Ibid.


59 decades after it had been repressed by the ideals of Neoclassicis m in Europe 31 These differences illustrate that the use of the Rococo style and its meaning in Quito were clearly different from its use and meaning in Europe. Looking at the example of secular subject matter as a characteristic of the Quitenian Rococo (se en in The Courtier ), we see one principal origin of influence specific to the colonial situation. The opening of Free Trade increased the market for sculptors, broadening their patronage and allowing workshops to function with autonomy under the concept of free enterprise. 32 This encouraged sculptors to experiment with secular subjects because churches were no longer their primary patrons. 33 Meanwhile, as we have seen, the free trade decrees opened Quito to Rococo sculptures from France, Spain, and other Euro pean nations, allowing the secular subject matter of those works to influence Quitenian sculptures. This example illustrates that while European Rococo most obviously influenced Quitenian Rococo, the specific circumstances in Quito both facilitated and aug mented that influence. Just as the definition of French or European Rococo is in constant flux among scholars, so is the Rococo of Quitenian sculpture, a style not only distinct from Europe, but also different from that found in other viceroyalties. Palmer identifies Quitenian Rococo in sculpture as reaching its apex in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. She states that Rococo works 31 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 132 34. Palmer identifies Asian influences in Rococo sculptures through the use of ivory. For more information on Asian influences in Latin American art and their potential Asia & Spanish America: Trans Pacifi c Artistic and Cultural Exchange, 1500 1850: papers from the 2006 Mayer Center Symposium at the Denver Art Museum (Denver: Frederick and Jan Mayer Center for Pre Colombian and Spanish Colonial Art, Denver Art Museum, 2005). Michelena, 200 aos de escultura quitea 37.The guild for painters and encarnadores was established in 1741 and the guild for sculptors and doradores was established the next year. Bailey, Art of Colonial Latin America ana 32 Palmer, Sculpture in the Kingdom of Quito 112; Michelena, 200 aos de escultura quitea 39. 33 Ibid., 112.


60 exhibit small size, sinuous asymmetry, greater joy and informality, more secular subject matter, and a lack of religi ous settings. 34 Diverging from Palmer, Escudero identifies Rococo in Quitenian sculpture as occurring in the beginning of the nineteenth century. She describes it as a technique of virtuosity with precise carving and delicate polychromy. She also notes an i nclination toward mundane subject matter that is, at times, overly saccharine. 35 Finally, Michelena seems to subscribe to a Palmerian definition in which he notes a change in theme, size, and individual composition. He states that subject matter ceased to b e only religious, size became smaller, and demand grew for both individual images and sculptural groups. All of these changes eliminated the severity of sculptures and introduced agreeable and entertaining themes. 36 Michelena does not propose a specific tim e period in which the style existed beyond simply the eighteenth century and after the Baroque. I suggest that the Quitenian Rococo began around 1730 after the free trade decrees began and the Rococo style was becoming more established throughout Europe, a nd lasted through the first decade of the nineteenth century. 37 Despite their differences, these varying definitions illustrate certain observed commonalities of Quitenian Rococo style in sculpture. Secular themes, small size, increased movement and asymmet ry, and sentimentality all connect to Rococo characteristics from Europe but have different meanings in Quito The Quitenian sculptures are Rococo because they are small; illustrate movement and asymmetry through unique positions and poses; display humo r, sentimentality, and charm; 34 Ibid., 65, 112 113. 35 Ximena Escudero, Amrica y Espaa en la esc ultura colonial quitea: historia de un sincretismo (Quito: Ediciones del Banco de los Andes, 1992), 24. 36 Michelena, 200 a os de escultura quite a 74. 37 broadly


61 exhibit precision and delicacy; and parade secular subject matter through the portrayal of different characters that allude to the diverse colonial population. 38 The Shepherds ( Figure A 11) for example, are a pair of small nat ivity sculptures that display this style. The duo exhibit secular subject matter as a couple of poor shepherds, one standing in a long tattered blue shirt and one seated with his knees pulled to his chest in a dark shirt and torn knee breeches. A sense of sentimentality and charm is drawn from the bagpipe the standing figure holds in his left arm, suggesting they have paused from their work for a free moment of music and play. In addition, individually the sculptures move away from the rigidity of earlier Q uitenian sculptures in the asymmetrical contrapposto stance of the standing figure and the curving N shape of the seated figure with his head tilted back as if longing for the music and pause from work to continue. Their delicacy is exuded throughout the s culptures in their doll like proportions and tiny details of gentle eyebrows, pursed lips, and the individual rips, tears, and folds in their old clothing. The Fruit Vendor ( Figure A 12) is another example of a nativity sculpture that exhibits the Quitenia n Rococo style. The figure is less than a foot tall, has no religious association as an individual sculpture, and illustrates movement as it delicately steps forward on the right foot, swaying the entire body to the side in an asymmetrical composition. Fin ally, The Goiter Ridden Man ( Figure A 8) illustrates similar qualities of small size, precise details, and movement, but includes a characteristic not exhibited in the other three sculptures: humor. Surrounded by many trinkets, the man sits atop a silly an imal and throws a friendly wave in the air. It is a cruel humor, 38 Martn, Arte de Ecuador siglos XVIII XIX 87 90. Ricardo Martn associates the presentation of secular themes in the nativity scenes with the advent of a popular ar t and an Americanization of themes. He states that these two waves are most evident in sculpture, and illustrate less concern with people accepting Catholic religion. This is exhibited through a lighter approach to religious scenes (as opposed to the earli er grave depictions of martyrs and Historia y critica del arte hispanoamericano: Real Audiencia de Quito (Quito: Ediciones Abya Yala,


6 2 however, since the man displays large goiters on his neck. The Shepherds, The Fruit Vendor, and The Goiter Ridden Man are representative of individual sculptures throughout Quitenian nativity scenes that exhibit varying degrees of Quitenian Rococo. The style subtly recalled the Bourbons on the Spanish throne for a renewed positive connection, artistically fulfilling the creole elite desires. The connection of the Quitenian Rococo to the Bourbo ns, however, can be interpreted in another, less constructive way. Rococo style and Revolution As instruments of social expression, the nativity scenes were encoded with the mentality of the creole elite, including their contradictory desires, worries, and interests in maintaining loyalty to the Spanish Crown and displaying a clear sense of nationalism. The revolts of 1809 and 1810 illustrate that during the period leading up to the revolts there was a growing undercurrent of rebellion and increased nationa lism among the creole elite who were realizing that their renewed control and power was not necessarily only tied to possibilities of a renewed bond with the Spanish monarchy. In addition to giving the creole elite the means to posit a connection with the monarchy, in their Rococo style and wide display of genre figures, the nativity scenes can also be seen as subtly expressing the somewhat contradictory growing rebellious and nationalist desires and interests of the creole elite. The display of secular co lonial characters within the expansive nativity scenes, for example, would have enabled the creole elite to contemplate and connect with their own Quitenian society, thus connecting to ideals of nationalism. Meanwhile, the general association of the French with Rococo style could have brought to mind the French ideas on liberty and the French Revolution (1789 1799). These two underlying conceptions tied with Rococo subtly supported the rise in subversive desires of the creole elite as the first decade of th e nineteenth century drew to a close.


63 This opposition to the Bourbons can be witnessed in Salome ( Figure A 1) First, Salome exhibits the Quitenian Rococo style in its diminutive size of 13 inches and its delicate asymmetry as the figure gestures to the r ight. Its precise carving, with flecks of gold lighting individual strands of hair and eyelashes and its charmingly demure glance cast to the side, also characterize it as Rococo. This sculpture and others in The House of Herod scene are unique, however, b ecause the Bourbon Rococo connection does not end with the artistic style. The figure is rendered in the Rococ o fashion of a Bourbon courtier Her flawless alabaster skin and rouged cheeks, the stylish bouffant sitting high on her head and adorned with a j ewel, and the pastel color palette of her floral gown, make her almost a tiny replica of Maria Amalia of Saxony, femme fatale The Bourbon Rococo courtier (or perhaps even as specific of an individual sculpture with a renowned negative character from the Bible. The Rococo individual is subtly vilified. There is an understated opposition to Bourbons through the manner in which this sculpture is rendered. The Rococo style and fashion therefore, can simultaneously be viewed as both a renewed connection with the Spanish monarchy and an underlying opposition to it. Nativity Scenes and their Display of the Social Hierarchy From figures like The Courtier and Salome, with their air of sophistication and fashionably rich attire, to The Shepherds, The Fruit Vendor, and The Goiter Ridden Man with their tattered clothing and implied humble lifestyles, the genre characters of the nativity scenes reach from the top of the s ocial ladder to the bottom, illustrating an organization of secular society. Nowhere is this more evident in the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene than The House of Herod and The Visitation ( Figures A 3 & A 4). In the former, the Rococo dress and hairstyles of the female figures alludes to contemporary eighteenth century society. With the presence of the king in the top central porch of the house, as I mentioned earlier, the figures relate to the


64 Bourbon monarchs, naturally organizing them at the top of a secul ar social hierarchy. Their high social position is emphasized through their relationship with the rest of the sculptures in the nativity scene. Their richness in appearance contrasts sharply with the dress and skin tones of the black figures in The Visitat ion scene, The Goiter Ridden Man, and the numerous figures displayed in the central niche that are not adorned with real fabric clothing. Similarly, the contemporary dress of the black figures alludes to contemporary, eighteenth century life, despite the p resence of Joseph and Mary. Representing individuals of African descent, the black figures would have been located on the opposite end of the social spectrum when juxtaposed with t he courtier s of the Herod scene. Thus, in their references to eighteenth cen tury society, the genre figures become hierarchically organized in relation to one another. The references to contemporary eighteenth century life in the nativity scene can be viewed as presenting a microcosm of Quitenian colonial society, especially with the subtle yet direct references to Quito through the colonial Quitenian architecture of the structures in both The House of Herod and The Visitation This mirror of colonial life, however, has quite literally been reduced to black and white. It is a simpl ified and Europeanized fiction with no figures represented with brown skin tones or clothing characteristic of the mixed race and native peoples of colonial Andean society. The only skin tones represented are white and ebony, as is most visible in The Hous e of Herod and The Visitation Furthermore, the nativity scenes present figures in social roles that can be ambivalently identified as belonging to either a colonial or a European society. A servant, courtier fruit vendor, or shepherd, for example, could be viewed as Quitenian or European because those were social roles present in both societies. The white skin and European accouterments of the figures could therefore be viewed in both a straightforward


65 manner as European characters with no connection to c olonial life and indirectly as colonial characters portrayed as idealized European models. There could be many reasons for this phenomenon. The inclusion of genre characters in nativity scenes is not unique to Quito. European, including Spanish, nativity s cenes had a well established tradition of representing genre figures. 39 Perhaps the European appearance of the figures is the result of a more loyal interpretation of European models, as seen when comparing The Courtier and The Gardener But why change the attire and maintain the same skin tone? In the case of The Courtier it would make sense to portray the figure with rosy, white flesh, but not in the case of The Fruit Vendor, The Shepherds, or The Goiter Ridden Man w hose attire and occupations identify them within the lower social strata of mixed race peoples and native Andeans The mastery of polychromy by Quitenian artists suggests the lack of mixed skin tones in the sculptures was purposeful. I argue that the ambiv alent and fictive portrayal of societal roles in nativity scenes with figures of ideal Europeanized renderings expressed yet another avenue of reclaimed control and influence for the creole elite not only across the Atlantic, but also within their own doma in of the Audiencia of Quito. Although they are European conceptions, the creole elite used the misrepresentations of the colonial roles in European ideals for local purposes. 40 The organization of society within the Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene illustrate s a sense of order found in the classification of the different social strata. References to African and Spanish or creole characters from life were permanently put on display in the form of the 39 th 22. 40 The Virgin, Saints, and Angels: South American Paintings 1600 1825 From the Thoma s Collection (Stanford: In Association with Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, 2006), 76 79.


66 sculpture. In such fixed order, each individual, from the ano nymous black servants to Salome could be separated, visualized, and understood. 41 By collecting the nativity scenes, the creole elite positioned themselves to visualize and understand the varying representations of each social stratum. The particular manner in which they were visualized was directly affected by two inherent concepts associated with collecting: nostalgia and control. While the objects of a collection often reflect a yearning for the past, they also allow the collector to physically possess th e objects in ownership of the types on display. 42 This personalized the creole elite connection with the social strata within the nativity scenes. The wide ranging figures of the crches could be viewed as validating the desire for a return to the past when the creole elite were at the top of a fixed hierarchy. In addition, by collecting the figures, the creole elite put themselves in a position of power through the possession and ownership of not only the sculptures such as The Goiter Ridden Man or The Cour tier but also the social figures they represented. The nostalgia and control associated with the ownership of the nativity scenes personally connected with the precarious social situation of the creole elite, further emphasizing the role of the nativity s cenes as instruments of social expression. Nativity Scenes Expressing Nostalgia Collections display the underlying sentiments of their owners, including their fears, hopes, and nostalgia for previous times. 43 By displaying figures with individual social rol es in 41 Edward J. Sullivan, The Language of Objects in the Art of the Americas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 77. There are direct links between the classifying concept of the nativity scene s and the taxonomic organization and portrayal of social types in paintings in both New Spain and the Andes. In New Spain, these paintings are known as casta paintings and were painting by several different artists mainly in the eighteenth century while in the Andes, the most well known series is by a single Ecuadorian artist, Vicente Albn. The portrayal of so many social types in the nativity scenes could have come about as a response to the trend in painting. Edward Sullivan discusses the concept of clas sifying the various strata of colonial society in both casta paintings and those by Albn in his book. 42 Cardinal and Elsner, The Cultures of Collecting 5; Sullivan, The Language of Objects, 92. 43 Ibid.


67 rigid sculptures, they are permanently fixed and unmoving, embodying the hope and desire of the creole elite for the social hierarchy to both stop changing and return to the time before the Bourbon Reforms when their position at the top was not vulne rable. Along with this nostalgia and longing for the past comes an idealization and distortion of what once was. The individual sculptures illustrate two different types of ideal. One is exhibited through romanticized poses, gestures, and facial expression s of contentment, happiness, and even humor, as if to show the audience that they are not only fixed in their social position, but also pleased to be there. A second is through the European lens through which the figures are painted with either white or bl ack skin and no medium tones. These two qualities are both seen in the white skin and lighthearted pose of The Fruit Vendor ( Figure A 12) In this sense, imagining an ideal hierarchy has been melded with the colonial concept of the ideal European society w ithout the troubles associated with the growing mixed race classes. Erasing the skin tone but maintaining the social role visually upheld the social hierarchy while guiding the creole elite viewer away from immediately contemplating the controversial mixed race classes. The nativity scenes, therefore, present distorted colonial microcosms, displaying ideal figures of different social positions. Rather than grimy and exhausted beneath the weight of the fruit sitting in the basket atop her head, for example, The Fruit Vendor has rosy cheeks with a smooth, doll like face and appears nearly weightless as she steps forward on the balls of her feet, as if participating in a charming dance. She remains relegated to a low social position, however, with her simple at tire, bare feet, and accessories pointing to physical labor. In Quito she would likely be a person of mixed race or a native Andean. However, her white skin idealizes her position within a European context. The standing figure among the pair of sculptures that composes The Shepherds is another example of such idealizing Europeanization with his non Andean instrument, white skin,


68 blue eyes, contented demeanor, and lack of native Andean dress typical of colonial shepherds. Likewise, The Goiter Ridden Man is r omanticized as a silly character. Riding a humorous animal that appears to be a cross between a donkey and a goat, he is cloaked in sentimentality as he throws a friendly waving arm in the air, has warm, rosy skin, and carries many unnecessary odds and end s, perhaps toys to sell to children as he travels from town to town. In addition, his torn clothing and strange comportment place him in polar opposition to the healthy and youthful man represented by The Courtier thus maintaining visually strict social b oundaries. With their pleasant and smiling faces, neither The Fruit Vendor, The Shepherds, nor The Goiter Ridden Man suffers or protests their low social position. While the Quitenian Rococo style contributed to the idealizing tendency and charming nature of these sculptures, such romanticization supports the idea that the nativity sculptures visually connected with the creole elite social situation. 44 The nativity sculptures displayed not only unchanging social strata of the past, but in happy and content m oods, suggesting no need or desire for change on behalf of the individuals represented. Meanwhile, their white, European like skin idealized the general hierarchy and avoided more directly addressing the mixed race classes. Thus, collecting the nativity sc enes reaffirmed and validated what the creole elite wanted because, as sculptures, they made that ideal conception real and active. Concluding Remarks: Nativity Scenes Expressing Control Owning the nativity scenes meant not only owning and controlling Sal ome, The Courtier, The Fruit Vendor, The Shepherds, The Goiter Ridden Man and others, but also symbolically controlling the Spanish or creole and native Andean or mixed race individuals referred to by those sculptures, given the precedent of an activating viewer sculpture relationship and the fact 44 In addition, the happy and contented attitudes of all the sculptures could relate to the celebratory tone of the birth of Christ.


69 that they represent people who were lower on the social hierarchy and subject to the creole elite in real life In a way, the sculptures acted as surrogates, allowing the creole elite owner to symbolically own the types themselves. 45 The roles portrayed by the sculptures, however, have an ambivalent origin as general positions present in both colonial and European society. This ambivalence allowed the creole elite to simultaneously view the figures as embodying both colonial and European social hierarchies. By viewing the genre figures as Europeanized colonial figures, the creole elite owner was able to classify, contain, and regulate the colonial types represented in the nativity scenes, allowing him or her to symbo lically stop the social strata from shifting and expanding as was occurring in their actual lives. Furthermore, by owning and controlling the sculptures and social roles they represented, the creole elite symbolically gained agency by imagining themselves in positions of power at the top of the nativity hierarchies. The concept of owning and affirming a fixed social hierarchy was reasserted through the actual interaction with the nativity scenes in the homes of the creole elite. Because the colonial privat e home was open to the presence of people from the highest to the lowest rungs of the social hierarchy, from priests to servants, those people would have witnessed their roles firmly situated in the nativity scene as they casually passed through the room i n which the nativity scene was displayed. During the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve, when families invited guests and servants to gather before the manger scene and pray a different set of verses each night, this process of witnessing their own role s in sculptural form became more than just casual 45 Edward Sullivan discusses a rise in popularity of wax figures depicting social types and trades in Mexico in the mid nineteenth century. He states that the objects served to codify and illustrate the various strata of Mexican society t and applied it here to the Quitenian nativity scenes of the eighteenth century. Sullivan, The Language of Objects, 91 92. Ilona Katzew, Casta Painting (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 39 Casta Painting as she discusses race relations and racial typing in casta paintings of eighteenth century Mexico.


70 observation. 46 The religious activities surrounding the nativity scenes once a year required the individuals of the household to observe the fixed social positions of the colonial figures in the crches, lea ding the control of the creole elite over the social strata of the nativity scene into the real world. Alternatively viewing the genre figures as depicting purely European social roles (rather than colonial roles masked in idealized European portrayals) meant owning and having symbolic power over European individuals. This symbolically placed the creole elite in a position of influence over the individuals that were causing their social and political vulnerability. To own them, meant having the symbolic p ower to curtail both the social and political changes put in place by those individuals. The Europeanization of the nativity genre figures therefore could be viewed as manifesting the desire of the creole elite for a renewed and modified relationship with Spain in which they had greater power. Furthermore, the concept of owning and controlling the nativity scenes can be extended beyond the idea of the social strata. In owning and thus having power over the nativity scenes, the creole elite established thems elves in positions of power over the connections the nativity scenes made across the Atlantic through their Rococo style and Spanish origin. The creole elite thus put themselves in a position to interpret and respond to the sculptures as they applied to th eir own lives. 46 th


71 CHAPTER 4 CONCLUDING REMARKS Intersecting Secular and Religious Realms Examining the iconography and style of nativity scenes and their individual sculptures such as Salome within the context of their ownership and owners illustrates that they were more than only objects of decoration or religious devotion. They were also instruments that connected to and expressed the political and social desires and fears of their creole elite owners. While this investigation has focused on the social and political relevance of the nativity scenes rather than the religious, it would be remiss to conclude this discussion of their role and meaning without recognizing and briefly discussing the fundamental religious themes they also express. Religion intersec ts with politics and society in the nativity scenes. This intersection of the religious and secular realms has an important implication in the impact of th eir meaning. The birth of Jesus Christ is one of the two most important events in Christian narrative Since their beginning in the thirteenth century, nativity scenes have put this moment into visual form for Christians to more easily conceive of the New Testament story. All Christians, no matter the denomination, have agreed and still agree upon the dog ma of the birth of Christ, illustrating its strength and importance throughout the history of Christianity. When secular themes are inserted into the visual manifestation of such an important event, these themes become associated with its impenetrable stre ngth of veracity. With its unique additions to the central event of the nativity with the genre figures and stylistic connections to the Spanish monarchy, the eighteenth century Quitenian nativity scene associated secular themes with the dogmatic event and thus affirmed their validity. This validity can be taken a step further considering the Spanish colonial environment in which Catholicism was present and that often dominated many aspects of daily life. Interpreting the secular themes in the Christian con text ties


72 them to not only an important moment for all Christians, but also one of the most influential institutions of the time period, the Catholic Church. This further affirmed the social and political expression of the nativity scenes. In the case of t he creole elite, it affirmed their intention to reestablish their control and power in the Audiencia of Quito. Potential Topics of Further Research My research has led me to ask and consider many questions beyond the scope of this paper. Here I present a f ew of those questions as they relate to nativity scenes and colonial Andean art in general. While I focused my research around one particular role of eighteenth century Quitenian nativity scenes and its meaning, there are many other possible additional mea nings they could have held for the creole elite as well as individuals of other socio economic statuses. Given the filtration of art down through society, a mestizo or Indian could have owned a nativity scene just as a peninsular Spaniard or creole did. It would be interesting to see how the social and political meanings changed as they related to the different owners and how those meanings compare. How malleable were the nativity scenes as instruments of expression? Did they express more for the creole eli te than they did for the mestizo or Indian? Looking specifically at the intersection between the religious and the secular, another approach to the meaning of the nativity scenes requiring a wider investigation would be to see if a similar crossing occurs in other arts in Quito and even throughout the Andes. Painted genre scenes on the walls of the refectory in the convent of El Carmen de la Asuncin in Cuenca, Ecuador suggest that a similar intersection of secular and religious was occurring in mural paint ing around the same time within the Audiencia. Understanding the reception of mural painting versus sculpture could illustrate deeper implications in the artistic portrayal of secular subject matter in religious contexts.


73 Summary The nativity scenes were i nstruments of expression. Their meaning changed from owner to owner depending upon the desires, urges, and identity of that individual or group. As collectors and owners of the nativity scenes, the creole elite encoded the sculptures with meaning as it was particularly relevant to their declining social and political circumstances. With the origin of the nativity from Spain, the Quitenian Rococo style of the sculptures, and the inclusion of a controllable, fictive colonial microcosm, the creole elite were a ble to envision a restoration of their lost and declining control and power in the Audiencia of Quito and across the Atlantic. As collected objects, the nativity scenes therefore expressed the political and social desires and fears of the creole elite. In the physical form of the sculpture a genre through which themes and characters become real and active in the eyes of the viewer the expressed desires and fears of the creole elite were validated and made real. This discussion has dealt with two widely neg lected areas: the mid to late eighteenth century and sculpture. Throughout the field of colonial Latin American art history, the late colonial period and sculpture are two of the least discussed areas. Although Quitenian sculpture is celebrated in surveys of colonial Latin American art, few scholars have focused discussions on this art form. Those scholars that do focus their work on colonial Quitenian sculpture do not examine a single period and have not explored the meaning of the genre and style in speci fic circumstances regarding colonial culture. This paper has taken a small step in the direction of filling that void.


74 APPENDIX FIGURES Figure A 1. Salome (Salom) nativity figure from Carmen Moderno nativity scene, polychrome wood and fabric, 13.3 X 7. 8 X 1.1 inches, late eighteenth century. 72157632985226354 Figure A 2 Central scene from Carmen Moder no Nativity Scene, late ei ghteenth century. ( El Coto del Beln is located in the bottom right corner of the photograph.) 8552691439/in/set 72157632985226354 Figure A 3 The House of Herod (La Casa de Herodes) detail from Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene, late eighteenth century. ( Salome is seen in the bottom right of the photograph.) 72157632985226354 Figure A 4 V isit of the Virgin Saint Mary to Saint Elizabeth (The Visitation) (La visita), detail from Carmen Moderno Nativit y Scene, late eighteenth century. 72157632985226354 Figure A 5 The Annunciation (La Anunciacin), det ail from Carmen Moderno Nativity Scene, late eighteenth century. 72157632985226354 Figure A 6 (Perhap s by Padre Almeida) Christ Crucified (Cristo Crucificado) polychrome wood, 66.1 X 59 X 15.7 inches, seventeenth to eighteenth century, Sacristy of the Church of San Diego, Quito. (not from a nativity) 72157632985226354 Figure A 7 Manuel Chili (Caspicara), Saint Joseph (San Jos) polychrome wood, 22.4 X 9.8 X 11.4 inches, late eighteenth century, Museum of San Francisco, Quito. (not from a nativity) 72157632985226354 Figure A 8 The Goiter Ridden Man (El Goto del Beln) nativity figure from Carmen Moderno scene, polychrome wood, 19.6 X 18.1 X 6.2 inches, late eighteenth century. 118@N03/8552692301/in/set 72157632985226354 Figure A 9 The Gardener porcelain, c. 1760, produced in the Bow Porcelain Factory, England. (Current location and dimensions not provided) 72157632985226354


75 Figure A 10 The Courtier (El Cortesano) nativity figure, polychrome wood, 7.8 X 3.9 X 3.9 inches, eighteenth century (after 1760), Museum Jacinto Jijn y Caamao, Quito. 72157632985226354 Figure A 11 The Shepherds (Los Pastores), nativity figures, poly chrome wood, standing figure: 10.2 X 4.7 X 5.5 inches, seated figure: 6.2 X 4.3 X 4.3 inches, eighteenth century, Museum of Colonial Art, Quito. com/photos/94007118@N03/8553794564/in/set 72157632985226354 Figure A 12 The Fruit Vendor (La Frutera) nativity figure polychrome wood, 10.4 X 6.3 X 3.1 inches, eighteenth century, Private Collection. 72157632985226354


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81 BIOGRAPHICA L SKETCH Leslie E. Todd was raised in Franklin, Tennessee where she attended University School of Nashville. She continued her education at Southern Methodi st University in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Todd maj ored in art h istory and Span ish with minors in Italian a nd women and gender s tudies. Ms. Todd graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna c um Laude with departmental distinction in Art History. After graduating, she lived in Ambato, Ecuador for a year where she taught English as a second language at Universidad Tcnica de Ambato. Ms. Todd then completed her Master of Art s degree in Art History at the University of Florida with a focus on colonial Latin American art in May 2013.