The Cusco School

Hailed as one of the most important painting movements in the Americas. The Cusco School of painting grew out of the Spanish conquerors desire to convert locals to Catholicism.

Once the victory over the Incas done, various Catholic order set about winning over people who were in general illiterate. They imported large numbers of European Renaissance religious paintings , including 16th century works by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Peter Paul Rubens and Francisco de Zubarán, as well as engraving and ilustrations.

This demand in turn drew painters to Peru in search of commissions. Representations of the Madonna, The Saints, Christ, and the crusifixion was the best example for priest to ilustrate their sermons



The Cusco painting of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries has antecedents in the works of Bernardo Bitti, whose pictorial stamp will be kept both in the place and in the anonymous. The mannerism of the Jesuit painter is expressed in a work of the Cathedral of Cusco, “La virgen del pajarito”. Another painter, disciple of Angelino Medoro’s mannerism, is Luis de Riaño. This is, like his teacher, offers the first naturalistic features that later led to the style of the Cusco school, the Baroque.

Let’s see some of the paintings:

  • The Nativity: is a perfect example of the School’s tradition whereby typical Christian imagen mix with local peruvian scenes. This painting is the representation of the bird of Christ but the landscape is Andean; a llama and indigenous people in nativeheadgear can be seen in the background along with angels.
  • The Virgin of Pomata: portrays the Virgin Mary with smooth dark reams of bair like Andean women. She took on a triangular shape to represent the apu (Sacred Mountain) or Pachamama (Mother Earth), both sacred to peruvians.

The Cusco school:

Painting of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Cusco. The multiple formal and iconographic characteristics, the wide territorial diffusion, and the continuity in the technical and aesthetic matter of the workshops of Cusquenia people, both of personalities. Identified as own authors.

In it, the most relevant results of the convergence of indigenous western and local traditions will be developed. The studies in this matter, by connoted, Peruvian and foreign investigators, have shed light on very revealing aspects of this important parcel of Peruvian colonial art.