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Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar

José Joaquín Bermejo or Pedro José Díaz

European Art

The sitter for this portrait has been depicted with the conspicuous luxury that befitted her high social status in Spanish colonial Peru. She wears an ankle-length gown called a tobajilla, intricately embroidered in silver and gold over a costly blue and white striped satin or silk fabric. Her buckled shoes are in a matching blue, and she is further adorned with a bejeweled tiara, a silver chandelier earring with large teardrop pearls, matching bracelets, and a choker and a necklace. In her hand is a small but extravagant watch with a silver and pearl pendant.

Doña Mariana was a central figure in one of Lima’s most notorious scandals: she entered a convent to avoid marrying an older man and, when he died, emerged from the cloister to marry the man’s nephew, the wealthy mayor of Lima. The fashionable and brilliant blue of her dress may thus also have been selected to emphasize her chastity.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Lima, Peru
  • DATES ca. 1780
    DIMENSIONS Canvas: 78 1/8 × 50 1/16 in. (198.4 × 127.2 cm) frame: 81 × 53 7/8 × 2 1/2 in. (205.7 × 136.8 × 6.4 cm) weight w/ frame: 96 lb. (43.55kg)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Verso: On the bottom proper left cross bar, graphite : “Holden / 18m 787 x 50” with a sketched rectangle made of six sections mimicking the stretcher to the right of the writing On the top proper left cross bar, ink/pen : “Bin #80”
    SIGNATURE Unsigned
    INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed lower right in cartouche: "La Sra. Da Ma / riana Belsunso / y Salasar. / Na / tural de Lima M[u?] / ger legitima de Coronol Agustin de Landal[uru?] y Rivera"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. L.H. Shearman
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION José Joaquín Bermejo (Peruvian, active ca. 1760–1792). Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar, ca. 1780. Oil on canvas, Canvas: 78 1/8 × 50 1/16 in. (198.4 × 127.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. L.H. Shearman, 1992.212 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.212_SL3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1992.212_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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