CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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Visual representations of the Last Judgment in Spanish America and their interrelations with Europe

Session 3 Imagination and Projection



The Last Judgment is one of the most important themes of Christian doctrine. Its theological significance justifies the importance given to its visual representations, not only in Europe, but anywhere in Christendom, no matter how far apart. Many visual examples, then, can also be found in territories of ancient Spanish America, mainly in the so-called Postrimerías – a word which, in Christian contexts, encompasses the final destination of mankind: Death, Last Judgment, Heaven and Hell.

We shall analyze Hispano-American representations of the Last Judgment, painted between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, comparing them to Western European tradition of depictions of the Doomsday, in order to see similarities and differences between them. We intend to consider the possible reasons for the popularity of representations of the Last Judgment in Spanish America, which must be related to the conversion of indigenous people. Frequently these images were used as instruments to strengthen religious messages, which may explain why iconographic elements of these paintings, although highly inventive, are often somehow inspired by reality. We must thus consider the expected religious functions of such scenes, which will be fundamentally the same, regardless where or when these works were made. 


Tamara Quírico earned her Master in History of Art at State University of Campinas (Unicamp), and her PhD in Social History at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), in a joint supervision program with the Università degli Studi di Pisa, in which she studied changes in the iconography of the Last Judgment in fourteenth century Tuscan painting. Since 2012, she is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Theory and History of Art of State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). Tamara studies especially Italian paintings from the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, focusing nowadays particularly in the uses and functions of Christian images, devotional practices and interchanges between Christian images from Europe and Spanish America. She published in Portuguese Inferno Paradiso. The representations of the Last Judgment in 14th century Tuscan painting (Inferno ParadisoAs representações do Juízo final na pintura toscana do século XIV) (Unicamp Press, 2014).