The present two historical paintings are from the Andean School are rare examples of Castas outside of Mexico. It is assumed that they were originally part of a series of six paintings (four of which were sold at Christie’s New York in November 25, 1992). The present painting shows a rich woman from the town in Ecuador with her negro servant surrounded by trees and an overflowing basketful of their fruit. The lady is richly attired with gold jewelry and magnificent diamond chandelier earrings. Her richly embroidered dress cascades with lace and gold trim. Her face and hair are adorned with flower shaped beauty marks and a small golden sword keeps her hair in place. The short style of her dress was the fashion exclusively in the Spanish Colonial Andean regions of Peru and Ecuador. The festival hat she holds in her left hand with its silver and gold trim, also denotes she is from the Andean region. The overt display of wealth is not limited to the noble lady, her negro servant also sports an elaborate dress and beautiful gold and pearl jewelry.
The second painting shows a noble Indian lady wearing her festive finery. Like the noble lady, she also sports a large gold necklace and jewelry as well as magnificent textiles in her dress. What identifies her as being Indian, is not so much the coloring of her skin, but by the manner of her dress and bare feet. Her shawl is held together by a large elaborate metal pin called a tupus, a feminine adornment still in use to this day in the Andean community. She too is accompanied by trees and the large basketful of fruit. In addition, a small figure of an simply attired Indian carrying a load on his back is seen on the left, leaving no doubt that the lady is of a much higher station in life than the figure in the background.
There is a very similar set of paintings in the Museo de Americas in Madrid, which were commissioned for the Spanish royal court by José Celestino Mutis, the Viceroy of the Kingdom of New Granada (present day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela). The Madrid set is dated 1783 and one panel is signed by Ecuadorian painter Vicente Albán. The present two works appear to be contemporaneous to those in Madrid. The present two paintings come from a private collection in Florida dating back to the 1920s which was dissolved in 1970. It is assumed that they are the two missing works from the prior noted series which was sold in New York in 1992 and whose provenace was also a Florida collection.
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