St. John the Evangelist
The four gospels in the New Testament of the bible were penned by four (of the twelve) apostles of Jesus -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. St. John the Evangelist is shown here as a full length figure holding a book, the bible, to which he was a contributor. The primary image and symbols of St. John the Evangelist (holding a book and a cruciform staff) may have been copied from a European print source by a New World artist in Cuzco, Peru, a practice that was common among artists of the time.
While at first glance the painting might look to be a European style religious painting there are some elements that make it uniquely Peruvian. The extraordinary use of gold stamping to create the pattern on the cloth is exclusive to Cuzco and the surrounding highland areas, including Bolivia. Also, many paintings from Cuzco exhibit an extremely lush landscape populated with numerous tropical birds and flowers scattered about. Birds were important to the Inca, considered sacred in their ability to fly and get closer to the sun god. Angels with feather wings are part of Christian imagery the world over and the inclusion of angels with red and blue wings (red and blue were sacred colors to the Inca) are common in Peruvian highland paintings. Although Lima became the political capital of colonial Peru, Cuzco remained its artistic capital, as it had been in Inca times.
--Julie Wilson Frick & Donna Pierce, 2015