Madonna and Child with Bird

Madonna and Child with Bird

circa 1730-40
unknown artist
Cuzco, Peru
Peruvian Colonial
Oil paint and gold on canvas
Accession Number
Credit Line
Gift of Engracia Freyer Dougherty

Unknown artist, Madonna and Child with Bird, about 1730-40. Oil paint and gold on canvas; 25 × 18½ in. Gift of Engracia Freyer Dougherty, 1972.390.

height: 25 in, 63.5000 cm; width: 18.5 in, 46.9900 cm
Mayer Center, Latin American Art
Latin American Art
This object is currently on view

This painting is from Cuzco, Peru, and incorporates Spanish influences along with strong Indigenous iconography. The Cuzco area was once the center of the Inca Empire, and it continued to have a significant Inca population throughout the Spanish Colonial period. The Cuzco School included many Indigenous artists as well as those of Spanish descent.
     The Inca considered birds to be sacred, partially for their ability to fly and, consequently, to move closer to the sun god. Bird feathers were incorporated into clothing and headdresses of the Inca nobility and symbolized their exalted status. In Cuzco, paintings often incorporated birds or bird feathers into images of the Virgin and Christ to indicate their sacred and honored position in colonial society. The painting is finished with a gold brocade overlay known in Spanish as broceatado, typical of the Cuzco School.
     Madonna and Child with Bird was selected as the 2006 U.S. Postal Service Christmas stamp.
-- Donna Pierce, 2015

Known Provenance
Collected 1920s in Peru by Mrs. Maria Engracia Critcher Freyer [1888-1969] and Mr. Frank Barrows Freyer [1878-1947], Washington, DC ; inherited 1969 by Mrs. Engracia Freyer Dougherty [1910-1977], Columbus, OH; gifted 27 November 1972 to the Denver Art Museum. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • "Treasures from Peru: Spanish Colonial Paintings from the School of Cuzco," Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, 1967
  • "Peruvian Colonial Painting," Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Sept. 28-Nov. 12, 1972

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