The Nelson-Atkins Press Release
Thoma Collection of Viceregal Art

Kansas City, MO. Feb. 11, 2022–A focus exhibition comprising 15 works made by artists in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru during Spanish colonial rule in the 17th and 18th centuries opens at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City Feb. 12 and runs through Sept. 4, 2022. Paintings from South America: The Thoma Collection (1600-1800) contains work from the distinguished holdings of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation in Chicago, which is committed to promoting the art of the Spanish Americas through scholarship and exhibition of its extensive collection from South America and the Caribbean. These offer visitors a major opportunity to learn about an important art history moment: the development of an extraordinarily vibrant art form that fused European precedents with indigenous elements in the Americas.

“These exquisite works from an important private foundation will be a revelatory first look for many of our visitors and provide a major contribution to their understanding of viceregal art,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Most of the paintings in this exhibition originally hung in private homes, where they both gave pleasure and invited intimate contemplation and prayer.”

During the 17th and 18th centuries, cities in present-day Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador were among the largest populations in the modern world, with extraordinary wealth based upon natural resources. The artwork created there both celebrated viceregal society as well as helped evangelize and spread Roman Catholicism. Spanish South American art is a dynamic, unique combination of styles and influences from visiting Italian artists translated and adapted by local hands and minds. In recent years, scholars have recognized that viceregal art’s unique characteristics are not a peripheral, provincial echo of the mainstreams of art production but instead a vital, creative force that participated in a global artistic economy.
The works on view represent primarily Roman Catholic subjects, since paintings and sculptures adorned churches and convents across Spanish America. The Thoma Collection includes paintings by Melchor Pérez Holguín and Bernardo Bitti. The artists who created the other paintings cannot be identified, though they reflect styles generated in the Andean centers of Potosí, Bolivia; Quito, Ecuador; and Lima and Cuzco, in present-day Peru.

Image caption: Unidentified workshop (Perú). Our Lady of Cocharcas, 1751. Oil and gold on canvas, 49 7/8 x 41 1/8 in. Collection of Carl & Marilynn Thoma, 2011.040. Image: Public domain, courtesy of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation, photo by Jamie Stukenberg.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access to its renowned collection of more than 42,000 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and Native American and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the museum is a key educational resource for the region. The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, and closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission to the museum is free to everyone. For museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit

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Kathleen Leighton, Manager, Media Relations and Video Production
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art