SCRIPT - OUR LADY OF POMATA
Our Lady of Pomata is a small oil painting, about two feet tall by one and a half feet wide. We don’t know the artist, but we know it was done between 1700 and 1750 in South America. Artists in colonial South America did many paintings of Our Lady of Pomata. To understand why, you must start by going back before 1700....
RAINFOREST AMBIENCE... FLUTES
Peru, South America. For hundreds of years ruled by the Inca people... a civilization with its own gods and religion. But in 1532 the first Spanish conquistadores came to Peru....
The Spanish defeated the Incas and brought the Catholic religion.
Over time, Incans became Catholics...
GREGORIAN CHANT BEGINS....
For the next two hundred years Peru was a colony of Spain.
The Catholic Church dominated and influenced what artists painted during the colonial period. And so you find paintings like Our Lady of Pomata, both a portrait...in the European tradition of portrait painting... and a religious painting. Religious paintings were meant to sustain the faith of Spanish colonists and to help convert indigenous people to Catholicism.
Our Lady of Pomata is called a statue painting, because it shows her as a statue, carved from wood, wearing a crown, dressed in lavish garments, and adorned with precious materials. The town of Pomata was in the highlands of Peru above Lake Titicaca. It was a popular shrine for pilgrims. Catholics throughout the Andes mountains of South America honored Our Lady of Pomata as the source of miracles. Many churches contained statues of her on a side altar. And many artists painted portraits of her.
And now here’s a verbal description of the painting Our Lady of Pomata.
She stands facing us, her eyes looking demurely down to your right. She wears a white floor length dress. On her shoulders she wears a brown cape, and the cape is spread wide and hangs down to below her feet. The bottom of the cape is trimmed with a gold design. Within the composition of the painting, the cape forms a large triangle with her head at the top point of the triangle. This triangle fills much of the painting.
On her head she wears a high crown. She also wears an elaborate necklace and earrings adorned with white precious stones. In her right hand she holds a small bouquet of flowers. In her left hand she cradles an infant Jesus. The baby wears a fancy brown gown trimmed with lace, a red cape, and a crown similar to Our Lady’s. The brown beads of a rosary loosely drape across the hands of Our Lady and the baby Jesus.
The front of her dress and cape are decorated by flowers with large red petals. The flowers are connected by swags of white pearls in multiple strands that drape in half circles across the front of her cape and dress. Pearls were among the sensational finds of the Spanish in the New World. Artists celebrated that fact by decorating Our Lady with pearls.
Above her, a garland of red and white flowers forms a graceful half circle arch.
On her left and right, two small angels are pulling back red drapes as if the alter is a stage. It’s like they’re opening the curtains to begin the worship.
Below her feet is a white upturned crescent moon shape. And resting on the crescent are the heads of three cherubs with tiny wings. Two of them are looking up adoringly at her.
In the bottom left and right of the painting are two people with hands folded in prayer. As you look at the painting, in the right corner is a nun, St. Rose of Lima, the first saint born in the Americas to be canonized. She’s dressed in a black gown with a white habit on her head decorated with red flowers. In the left corner is a monk, St. Nicholas of Tolentino. He is dressed in brown monk’s robes. Both people are gazing up at the face of Our Lady of Pomata.