Immaculate Conception. José Antolínez. Oil on canvas, 207 x 167 cm. 1666. Madrid, Fundación Lázaro Galdiano.

The last section of the exhibition is the most fascinating and significant. As the title indicates, it shows the Spanish American painters’ gamut of responses to the various sources available to them. Arranged into thematic comparisons, these paintings function at several levels. The most evident is the relationship with Spanish painting, particularly that of Andalusia, and, to a lesser extent, that of Madrid. However, as we have seen in the previous section, American painters had access to images from other Crown territories, particularly Flanders, and were capable of interpreting for themselves how these sources could be used. They gradually developed what is known as a local tradition or an adaptation of Spanish artistic conventions, which they reshaped to fit the needs and requirements of their own societies.

This process is shown by arranging the paintings into themed groups which illustrate the “shared identities and local variants” in Hispanic painting from 1550 to 1720.

In the works on the subject of the Immaculate Conception, one of the most characteristic devotional focuses of the Spanish world, we find both the common basis shared by artists on either side of the ocean and the particular features of the output of the various centres, with the variants that progressively emerged in the symbols accompanying the image, in her posture and in the colour of her robes.

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