late 18th c.
8.5" x 12.25"
Painting, Oil on copper Region:
Signed lower right
The theme of the Divine Shepherdess originated in Seville in 1703 when the Capuchin monk, Isidoro of Seville, commissioned the Spanish painter, Alonso Miguel de Tovar, to create the image after a vision of the Virgin as a shepherdess. In accordance with Isidoro's first description, nearly all Divinas Pastoras share remarkably similar qualities. In this particular eighteenth century painting by noted Mexican painter Andrés López, the Virgin is dressed in a red tunic and blue manta and wearing a sheepskin shirt. She is shown tending lovingly to the sheep who represent believers. This small oil on copper is one of a set in which the other painting depicts Christ as the Divine Shepard. Unlike most Divinas Pastoras scenes, this rendition shows the Virgin in the center surrounded by her flock on both sides. The archangel fighting the demon to save the stray sheep that is usually seen in the background is absent, instead depicting an idyllic countryside. Divina Pastora gained widespread popularity for the sweetness and loving manner of the Virgin tending her flock. This imagery spread rapidly after its presentation at the beginning of the eighteenth century where it was taken up by many Latin American artists including Miguel de Cabrera, Andrés de Islas, and Andrés López, who created this particular set.
A true Mexican master, Andrés López began his career in Mexico City where he worked until his death in 1812. His large body of work consists mostly of religious paintings, though he was also known for painting portraits of important governing officials. Coming from a family of painters, both is father and brother were also artists, though never gaining the same level of notoriety. López was one of the founders of the Academia de San Carlos--a painting institute for young artists--and was also one of a number of painters asked by Dr. Ignacio de Bartolache to examen the original image of the Virgen of Guadalupe and endorse the piece. He was trusted to create a copy of this image using the same materials and techniques, although this painting no longer exists. López was among the most important Mexican painters of the eighteenth century, and his works can be found in institutions such as the Museo de la Basílica de Guadalupe and the Museo Nacional del Virreinato.