By the mid-18th century, mining had so enriched Potosí, it was one of the wealthiest cities in Spanish America. Its citizens showed their devotion to the city and to its religious shrines in the extravagant donations given to its many churches, monasteries and convents. The family of the Marquise of Santa María de Otavi owned the Ingenio Chaca, a mining enterprise that made them wealthy enough to acquire a noble title, something only three other mining families in Potosí were to achieve in the colonial period. The Marquise showed her largesse with public commissions; the facade of the parish church of Santa Lucia says that the church was constructed in 1755 through her gift.
Visual Culture
This excerpt discusses the triumphal cart, made entirely of silver, that the pious and very wealthy Marquise of Santa Maria de Otavi commissioned as a gift to Potosí's main church, through the offices of the cofradía (or religious association) of the Blessed Sacrament, of which she likely was a member. Such a cart would have customarily been used to carry sacred objects, like sculptures, taken from the church and paraded through city streets; a similar cart can be seen in a painting showing Cuzco's Corpus Christi's celebrations, included in the Vistas gallery. Unhappy with the use of her commission, the Marquise petitioned the leaders of the cofradia to refashion it. This excerpt is revealing because it shows the influence such patrons could have both in the creation of artworks, and in their subsequent use.

See a festival cart used in Cuzco in the Vistas Gallery.

Library > 16th Century    > 17th Century    > 18th Century