Entry of Viceroy Archbishop Morcillo into Potosí

Political Force Gallery
Entry of Viceroy Archbishop Morcillo into Potosí, 1718. Melchor Pérez Holguín.
Museo de América, Madrid, Spain.

This painting, by one of viceregal Perú’s most prominent painters, Melchor Pérez Holguín, shows the entrada of Viceroy Morcillo into Potosí in 1716. When a new Viceroy was appointed, he would be welcomed with an “entrada” into the cities of his Viceroyalty as he traveled toward the capital to take his seat. An entrada would typically include a parade of the town’s citizens through elaborately decorated streets, special masses, and other public celebrations.

The main body of this painting focuses upon Morcillo’s procession as it passes down Hoyos street. In the foreground, the viceroy (who was also Archbishop) rides into town beneath a canopy, having just passed through an elaborate processional arch (at the far right of the scene). The top two inset paintings show the arrival of the procession to the main plaza of Potosí and the masque, or courtly dance, that the miners staged after night fell on the plaza, all to welcome the Viceroy.

Taken together, these vignettes suggest the drama of public spectacle in Spanish American cities. An unabashed celebration of political power and hierarchies, entradas also provided opportunities for visual expressions of local pride, like wearing fancy clothing and performing dances set to local music. And here, Holguin has depicted a vibrant Potosí: Africans and African Americans appear as footmen and musicians, or as servants who watch the parade from balconies; Creole men march in the procession, their wives observing from beneath parasols or with children in tow. Indigenous people have come as well, looking on from open rooftops and other city vantages.



Mendieta Pacheco, Wilson. 1998. Melchor Pérez Holguin: brocha de oro. La Paz: Banco Central de Bolivia.

Mesa, José de and Teresa Gisbert. 1977. Holguín y la pintura virreinal en Bolivia. La Paz: Librería Editorial Juventud.

Wuffarden, Luis Eduardo. 1999. “Entrada del virrey arzopbispo Morcillo en Potosí.” Los siglos de oro en los virreinatos de América: 1550-1700. Pp. 146-148. Madrid: Sociedad Estatal para la Conmemoracion de los Centenarios de Felipe II y Carlos V.

The Political Force of Images > Surveying Political Force    > Images    > Texts    > Bibliography