Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0052
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0052
The origins of what we now denominate “Spanish colonial decorative arts” can be traced back to the last decade of the 15th century, when Spanish craft uses and customs were transplanted to the New World. The development of arts and crafts in Spanish America presents a special case within the context of the Americas. Among the most-distinctive aspects of the development of Spanish colonial decorative arts is the impact of local pre-Columbian craft traditions. In no other American colonies would native traditions come to play as essential a role as they would in those territories controlled by the Spanish Crown. The creation of new and original artistic traditions with their own specific decorative vocabulary, distinguished from both Iberian and Native American precedents, took several centuries and many generations of craftsmen to fully evolve and flourish. By the third decade of the 19th century most Latin American territories had gained independence from the Spanish Crown. The emancipation process, in most regions accompanied by civil wars followed by dramatic economic and social upheaval, deeply transformed the productive structures and in many cases put an end to more than three centuries of craft production rooted in the Spanish tradition. The nationalistic context in which most of the scholarly research has been conducted since the late 19th century fails to authentically reflect the original conditions of artistic production in the colonial era. Spanish territories were organized rather differently than present-day Latin American nations; production, trade, and consumption of goods were developed in accordance with this former geopolitical organization. To fully understand the phenomenon of Spanish American decorative arts, it is imperative to be aware of the original organization of the colonial territories and to expand the study frame to include the Philippines—which was then under the jurisdiction of New Spain. It is also important to note the variety of terms used to denote the Spanish Colonial period in the specialized literature. The general and ubiquitous “colonial,” the more geopolitically exclusive “viceregal” (notably applied to Mexico and Peru), and the sometimes misleading—due to prevailing durability in postcolonial cultural semantics—“Hispanic,” e.g., “del período hispánico,” are all in customary usage. With an emphasis on late-20th- and early-21st-century scholarship, and with the exclusion of research devoted to architecture, painting, and sculpture, this bibliography encompasses the examination of principal expressions of Spanish American arts and crafts produced between the 1490s and 1820s. The reviewed publications are in Spanish, unless otherwise specified.
Our forebears who pursued the study of the decorative arts have bequeathed to us an imprecisely defined and variedly denominated area of inquiry. Contemporary scholars must achieve a familiarity with a diverse terminology. To varying degrees coextensive with “decorative arts” (artes decorativas) are the “minor arts” (artes menores), “industrial arts” (artes industriales) “utilitarian arts” (artes útiles), and “mechanical arts” (artes mecánicas). Some late-20th-century and early-21st-century literature includes Spanish colonial decorative arts in a general overview of colonial art: for example, Gutiérrez 1995, Bailey 2005, and Trusted 2007. However, a general critical survey devoted entirely to the decorative arts of the Spanish colonial era is yet to be published. Instead, the subject is usually addressed in one or more discrete chapters dedicated to specific countries in the general surveys of colonial art. Accordingly, some national decorative arts traditions have profited from outstanding introductory texts, while others have gained little or no benefit from the broad scope of the literature. The decorative arts of New Spain have achieved supremacy in the available texts, ranging from Manuel Romero de Terreros’s pioneering Las artes industriales en la Nueva España (Romero de Terreros 1982) to the more recent overview on New Spain contained in Rivero Borrell 2002, referenced under Exhibition Catalogues. Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes 1983 is the most complete and up-to-date source for the viceroyalty of La Plata. The viceroyalty of New Granada and the captaincy general of Venezuela are adequately reviewed in Arbeláez Camacho 1968 and Duarte and Gasparini 1974. The viceroyalty of Peru is a special case. Although Peruvian fine art has been extensively studied (with the exception of silverwork), the subject of decorative arts has been largely neglected. As a result there are no satisfactory general surveys of Peruvian decorative arts. However, the short and concise text by Francisco Stastny in Majluf, et al. 2001 provides a welcome modicum of remedy. Martínez Castillo 2000 is a basic introductory text to Honduran colonial art. Unfortunately, the scarce literature on colonial art in other regions includes little or no useful references for the study of decorative arts. Consequently, exhibition catalogues (see Exhibition Catalogues and museum catalogues (see Museum Catalogues), discussed in detail in the next sections, serve as important alternative resources. Of these, Rishel and Stratton-Pruitt 2006 and Fane 1996, both cited under Exhibition Catalogues, are notable for their prescience and breadth.
Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes. Historia general del arte en la Argentina II. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1983.
A collection of essays on colonial art. Includes excellent sections on furniture (pp. 121–248) and silverwork (pp. 235–482), both by Adolfo Luis Ribera. It is considered among the best sources of Argentinean decorative arts from the Hispanic period. Very good illustrations of furniture and silver artifacts, many in color, complement the essays.
Arbeláez Camacho, Carlos. El arte colonial en Colombia: Arquitectura, escultura, pintura, mobilario, orfebrería. Bogotá, Colombia: Ediciones Sol y Luna, 1968.
A fundamental general survey of Colombian colonial art. It includes chapters on furniture and silverwork. Good as a beginner’s introduction to the subject. Good-quality illustrations of furniture and silver, some in color.
Bailey, Gauvin Alexander. Art of Colonial Latin America. London: Phaidon, 2005.
A very broad overview of Latin American colonial art. Decorative arts are discussed as part of the general discourse. A useful appendix includes a glossary, brief biographies of artists, a chronology, and maps. In English.
Duarte, Carlos F., and Graziano Gasparini. Arte colonial en Venezuela. Caracas, Venezuela: Editorial Arte, 1974.
A good introduction to Venezuelan colonial art. It covers a wide range of decorative arts topics including furniture, ceramics, and silverwork. Very good-quality illustrations, some color.
Gutiérrez, Ramón, ed. Pintura, escultura y artes útiles en Iberoamérica, 1500–1825. Madrid: Cátedra, 1995.
A broad overall survey of Spanish colonial art that includes decorative arts as well. Several chapters are of interest for this bibliography: chapter 18, on decorative arts in New Spain; chapter 19, on utilitarian arts in New Granada and Quito; chapter 20, on utilitarian arts in Peru; chapter 21, on utilitarian arts in Chile; and chapter 22, a general overview on colonial silverwork. With illustrations. A good introductory text for undergraduates and graduate students.
Majluf, Natalia, Cristóbal Makowski, Francisco Stastny. Art in Peru: Works from the Collection of the Museo de Arte de Lima. Lima, Peru: Museo de Arte de Lima, 2001.
A concise general overview on Peruvian art. The colonial art chapter by Francisco Stastny (pp. 83–125), which includes furniture and silver, is an excellent introduction for undergraduates. Good color reproductions. Spanish edition available.
Martínez Castillo, Mario Felipe. Por las rutas de la plata y el añil: Desarrollo del arte colonial religioso Hondureño. Tegucigalpa, Mexico: Grupo Financiero el Ahorro Hondureño, 2000.
This work figures among the few available publications on Honduran colonial art. A short introductory text framing local colonial art is followed by a photographic survey of religious art. The review includes furniture and silverwork.
Romero de Terreros, Manuel. Las artes industriales en la Nueva España. Mexico City: Banco de Mexico, 1982.
Foundational work for the decorative arts of New Spain. The author examines in detail the diverse craft specialties in colonial Mexico. Chapters on jewelry, ironwork, bronze, arms saddlery and carriages, carving and inlaid work, furniture, ivories, ceramics, glass, and textiles. A useful appendix on featherwork, gild ordinances, and Chinese porcelain in Mexico. With illustrations. The 1982 edition of the book includes an additional collection of writings.
Trusted, Marjorie. The Arts of Spain: Iberia and Latin America 1450–1700. London: V&A Publications/The Hispanic Society of America, 2007.
Presents an excellent general overview of the arts of the Spanish Empire. A wide range of media are examined, including architecture, painting, engravings, sculpture, books, textiles, furniture, and ceramics. Chapters 5 and 6 are of interest for the study of decorative arts in the American colonies. In English.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Legal History of Peru
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- From "National Culture" to the "National Popular" and the ...
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Ponce de León
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Science and Technology in Modern Latin America
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 19th Century and Modernismo Poetry in Spanish America
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas