In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Colonial Art of New Granada (Colombia)

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Early Historians of Painting and Sculpture
  • Journals and Magazines of the 19th Century
  • Regional Studies
  • Historians of Architecture and Urbanism in Cities and Towns
  • The Illustrators of the Botanical Expedition (1783–1810): Art Inspired by Science
  • Dictionaries
  • Museum Catalogues
  • Encyclopaedias

Art History Colonial Art of New Granada (Colombia)
Marta Fajardo de Rueda
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 May 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 May 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920105-0150


The history of colonial art in the New Kingdom of Granada, which includes present-day Colombia (the primary focus of this bibliography) and parts of modern-day Ecuador and Venezuela, starts with the chroniclers and travelers who registered works of architecture and art through the 19th century. In 1886 the inaugural Exhibition of the School of Fine Arts recognized the artistic value of religious works. At the beginning of the 20th century, the first inventories were made and inquiries about painters and sculptors began. In 1931 Juan Contreras Marqués de Lozoya wrote The History of Hispanic Art (Historia del arte hispánico), which included Spanish America for the first time. By the mid-20th century, foreign professors had visited Colombia to include art from the New Kingdom of Granada in general art history books on the Spanish Americas. Mario Buschiazzo recommended to local authorities and the general public the recognition of original and autonomous works of architecture and the creation of Institutes for Aesthetic Research. The 1960s mark the beginning of the systematic study of art and architecture, and later the iconographic and iconological method was introduced, which led to new interpretations. In 1974 the Colombian government created the National Restoration Center, and in 1975 the Spanish publishing house Salvat published the first Colombian Art History (Historia del arte colombiano), with contributions by several national scholars. The meeting on Latin American Baroque, held in Rome in 1980, guided and stimulated new research. Silvia Arango, in 1990, wrote The History of Architecture in Colombia. At the beginning of the new millennium, art history studies became more specialized. Reviews of the past have led to the careful re-examination of visual models, written sources, and their interpretation. This research has highlighted how the indigenous past, rich in cosmogonies, facilitated the reception of European culture. The first studies on textiles, altarpieces, silverware, jewelry, furniture, ceramics, engraving, and painting, together with analyses of gilders and trade associations, have now been produced. The names of new artists and artistic trades are being discovered. In sister disciplines a similar development has occurred: in architecture, considering new interpretations about constructions and urbanism, scholars have turned their attention to doctrine temples, exchange houses, bridges, and mills. Archaeology is providing useful data for historical research on buildings, urban planning, goldsmithing, and ceramics. Thus, researchers have revealed that the spectrum of artistic production is more complex than originally thought. It was not limited to evangelization through persuasive works, but also supplied the aesthetic and utilitarian requirements of a new society in formation. But colonial art has not yet been properly registered or catalogued. Much remains to be investigated about the artists and their works, and the techniques, materials, and regional contributions are not fully known.

General Overviews

Lozoya 1931 is the first published history of Hispanic art. Giraldo 1980 (cited under Early Historians of Painting and Sculpture) reports on research on painting, engraving, and miniatures. Angulo 1945–1950 and Kelemen 1967 (first published 1951) elaborate a general panorama of Latin American Art. Historia del arte colombiano recognized the adaptation of European engraved models and introduced the concept of miscegenation. The publication also made apparent the architectural heritage of the country. Sebastián 1990 and Sebastián, et al. 1996 study regional art and architecture and introduced the iconographic and iconological method subsequently applied by Fajardo 1999. Schenone 1992 contributes to the knowledge of iconography. Gutiérrez 1995 contributes to a synthesis on Ibero-American art between the years 1500 and 1825.

  • Angulo, Diego. Historia del arte hispanoamericano. 3 vols. Barcelona and Madrid: Salvat Editores, 1945–1950.

    Important document based on field research of three foreign historians in Colombia. Considers Spanish culture to include both Spain and its colonies. Volume 2, pp. 443–494: Enrique Marco documents the paintings in Santafé de Bogotá during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Sculpture section in Volume 2 (pp. 300–348) highlights the heritage of lesser known colonial cities, such as Santafé de Antioquia. Vol. 2, chapters 3, 4, 9, and 12 by Enrique Marco; chapter 8 by Mario J. Buschiazzo.

  • Fajardo, Marta. El arte colonial neogranadino a la luz del estudio iconológico e iconográfico. Bogotá, Colombia: Convenio Andrés Bello, 1999.

    Utilizes this method to understand the contents of artworks through the knowledge of cultural circumstances, political and philosophical ideas, religion, and the overall context that surrounded the artists during their creative processes. Provides a synthesis of the most relevant works of art and religious texts, by means of which the symbolic values that underlie each work of art are discovered.

  • Gutiérrez, Ramón, ed. Pintura, escultura y artes útiles in Iberoamerica 1500–1825. Madrid: Manuales de Arte Cátedra, 1995.

    This is an introductory text to the production processes of colonial art for the entire region. It brings together the work of the most important contemporary scholars and includes utilitarian arts. Black and white illustrations and extensive bibliography.

  • Historia del arte colombiano. 5 vols. Bogotá, Colombia: Editorial Salvat, 1975.

    The most comprehensive Colombian publication on the subject, covering from pre-Columbian times until the 1970s. It contains religious, civil, and military architecture; mural painting; sculpture; religious painting; and botanical painters. Undervalues miscegenation and treats art expressions such as textiles and silverwork as minor arts. Conceptions expressed here will later be called into question by modern scholars. Widely illustrated. The Colonial Art section was edited by Francisco Gil.

  • Kelemen, Pál. Baroque and Rococo in Latin America. 2 vols. New York: Dover, 1967.

    Valuable study that includes Spanish and Portuguese America. In chapter 5, the author highlights, with a stylistic approach, the most notable works of the New Kingdom of Granada, which included present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Panama. Volume 2, which is illustrated, allows for comparisons between regions. Originally published in English in 1951.

  • Lozoya, Juan Contreras, Marqués de. Historia del arte hispánico. 5 vols. Barcelona: Salvat Editores, 1931.

    Chapters 10 (Vol. 4) and 15 (Vol. 5) are devoted to the colonial art of the New Kingdom of Granada. Information is useful and remarkable because it is the first complete work of a Spanish author that refers to the New Kingdom of Granada. Among the arts, Lozoya includes goldsmithing.

  • Project on the Engraved Sources of Spanish Colonial Art (PESSCA).

    Excellent tool for the researcher. It provides information and documentation on prints that inspired colonial artists for painting, sculpture, and goldsmithing. Created in the 2005 by the Peruvian professor Almerindo Ojeda and his collaborators at the University of California, Davis.

  • Schenone, Héctor H. Iconografía del arte colonial. 2 vols. Buenos Aires: Fundación Tarea, 1992.

    Works on the origin and meanings of being a saint. Worshiping of saints facilitated the processes of transculturation as it replaced the ancestral gods. Includes the history of the saints venerated in America and their local particularities, including versions, commemoration dates and rites, iconography, and geographical location in the continent. This volume is key for iconographic studies. Illustrated.

  • Sebastián, Santiago. El barroco iberoamericano mensaje iconográfico. Madrid: Ediciones Encuentro, 1990.

    A fundamental work in which the author expresses his thoughts on the multiple transformations and interpretations that were given in the New World to the pictorial, sculptural, and spatial forms that came from Europe. This work highlights the original aesthetic contribution of the region.

  • Sebastián, Santiago, Teresa Gisbert, and José de Mesa. Arte Iberoamericano desde la colonizanización a la independencia. 2 vols. Summa Artis Historia General del Arte. Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1996.

    The most complete and erudite encompassing vision published to date on architecture, urbanism, and arts. In Volume 1, Sebastian synthesizes the heritage of Tunja and Santafé de Bogotá for the 16th and 17th centuries. Volume 2 is devoted to Popayán and its surroundings, with novel influences: Klauber and the Neoclassical style of the 18th century, as well as novel subjects of research. Widely illustrated.

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