Virgin of Monguí
- unknown artist
Unknown artist, Virgin of Monguí, 1727. Oil paint on wood panel with applied metallic sequins; 5⅞ × 4 in. Gift of the Stapleton Foundation of Latin American Colonial Art, made possible by the Renchard family, 1990.529.
The Virgin of Monguí is one of the most widely venerated images of the Virgin Mary in present-day Colombia. This painting is one of hundreds made to replicate the original miraculous image venerated in the Basilica and Convent of Our Lady of Monguí in the town of the same name in the district of Boyacá, Colombia. According to various traditions, either King Charles I of Spain or his son King Philip II sent to the New World a painting depicting the Holy Family at rest during the flight to Egypt in order to express gratitude to Indigenous leaders for their loyalty to the Spanish Crown. The painting is said to have worked a variety of miracles for local devotees that, over time, helped to establish its reputation as a powerful conduit to the sacred. Between 1694 and 1760, the present church was built to house the image and still draws thousands of pilgrims to its shrine each year.
In addition to the image’s distinguishing features such as Saint Joseph's Andalusian-style hat and the crescent moon at the Virgin’s feet, paintings of the Virgin of Monguí often include applied gold, jewels, and other decorations that imitate the precious adornments found on the original image. In this painting, metallic sequins attached to the surface adorn the Virgin’s crown, which is also decorated with gold leaf or paint. Although the artist of this painting is unknown, a small inscription on the stone at lower left reveals that it was made in 1727.
--Sabena Kull, 2017-18 Mayer Fellow for Spanish Colonial Art