Blanton Museum Acquires Collection of Colonial Art from Spanish and Portuguese Americas

With the acquisition of a collection of 119 paintings, sculptures, furniture and silverwork, a boost to the scope of the Blanton's Latin American holdings

Unknown Artist Rest in the Flight into Egypt Bolivia, 18th century Oil on canvas 32.06 x 69.69 in. Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

While it has long been recognized as a leader in collecting modern and contemporary Latin American art, the Blanton Museum of Art today announced that it had strategically expanded its holdings with the acquisition of a collection of 119 paintings, sculptures, furniture and silverwork from the Spanish and Portuguese colonial era in the Americas.

Assembled over four decades by New York collectors Roberta and Richard Huber, it includes works dating from the late 1600s to the early 1800s from countries across modern-day Latin America including Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. The Huber collection’s value is approximately $2.5 million.

“The acquisition of the Huber collection furthers our leadership in the field of Latin American art as a whole,” Beverly Adams, Blanton curator of Latin American art, said in a statement. “The dialogues between modern and contemporary art with historical material that have emerged in our galleries and in our research over the past few years have been illuminating.”

When the Blanton began collecting modern and contemporary Latin American art in 1963, it was one of the first museums in North America to do so. And in 1988, the Blanton became the first museum in the United States to establish a curatorial position devoted to modern and contemporary Latin American art.

Then in 2016, the Blanton expanded its focus on Latin American art when it announced a partnership with the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, a long-term loan of works from its distinguished collection of Spanish colonial paintings. The partnership with the Thoma Foundations also included a major grant that established a new curatorship in Spanish colonial art.

Unknown Artist, Coquera (Coca Box), Bolivian, ca 1730, Silver, 9.06 x 11.44 x 10.25 in., Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

Among the highlights of the Huber collection are an early 18th century silver coquera box (for the storage of coca leaves) from Bolivia and a sculpture of the Virgin Mary attributed to Francisco Xavier de Brito, active in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in the mid 1700’s.

Attributed to Francisco Xavier de Brito (Lisboa?-Ouro Preto, Brazil, 1751),
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Brazil, ca. 1750, Oil on wood, Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin

Later this year, a selection from the Huber collection will make their debut in the Blanton exhibition Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial America, which examines the social role of textiles and their visual representations in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela during the 1600s and 1700s. The show includes loans from the Thoma Foundation’s collection as well as other loans from other institutions.

The Blanton’s acquisition of the Huber collection was funded by the university, with additional support from Judy and David Beck, Leslie and Jack Blanton, Jr., Jeanne and Michael Klein, Judy and Charles Tate, and an anonymous donor.

Opening Feb. 17 is “Words/Matter: Latin American Art and Language at the Blanton,” an exhibition examining visual art and written language since the early decades of the twentieth century. “Words/Matter” is curated by Adams, and by assistant curator Florencia Bazzano.

 

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