Unknown Artist, Archangel Raphael. Peru/Bolivia, about 1720. Oil paint and gold leaf on canvas; 54 1/2 x 39 1/2 in. Denver Art Museum: Gift of Dr. Belinda Straight, 1985.535.
In colonial Peru, two artistic centers developed, one in Lima with heavy European influence; the other in Cuzco and the surrounding highland areas of the Andes mountains (including Bolivia), which incorporated stronger native inspiration and employed many native artists. In the highland area a distinctive style of painting evolved that combined European artistic traditions with details from native Incan iconography. The extraordinary use of gold decoration on paintings is exclusive to the highland areas of Peru and Bolivia. Known as broceatado (brocade) or sobredorado (gold overlay) in Spanish, it was created by applying gold leaf over small raised applications of gesso. It imitates the elaborate brocade fabrics of the era.
Paintings of angels became particularly popular in the highland Andes in colonial times, possibly as a result of their relationship to birds, held sacred by the Inca for their ability to fly and get closer to the sun god.
-- Donna Pierce, 2015