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A coquera (coca box) from Bolivia, circa 1730, part of an acquisition by the University of Texas at Austin of works from the Spanish and Portuguese colonial era. Photo: Blanton Museum of Art.

Blanton Museum of Art Acquires Collection of Colonial-Era Latin American Art

The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin has acquired the collection of Roberta and Richard Huber. Comprising 119 artworks from the Spanish and Portuguese Americas ranging from painting and sculpture to furniture and silverwork, the holdings hail from modern-day Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru.

“My wife, Roberta, and I couldn’t have hoped for a better steward for our collection than the Blanton, an institution with a long legacy of leadership in the field of Latin American art,” said Richard Huber. “We’re thrilled for the Blanton to present the works to audiences from Austin, the rest of the country, and abroad, and for them to be used in the museum’s robust teaching program on campus and in the community.”

The museum’s Latin American collection consists of more than 2,500 works of modern and contemporary art. In recent years, the institution has expanded its focus on art from the colonial period. In 2016, it announced that it had received a long-term loan of works from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation as well as a grant that established a curatorship in Spanish colonial art, and in 2017, the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros gifted the Blanton a group of eighty-three Venezuelan paintings, sculptures, and pieces of furniture from the colonial era. The Blanton also launched a cross-campus interdisciplinary program to facilitate object-based teaching, research, and scholarship on visual and material culture from this period.

Highlights from the Hubers’ collection include an early-eighteenth-century silver coquera box, which was used for the storage of coca leaves, from Bolivia; a bust-size reliquary of Saint Augustine from Mexico, circa. 1650; a portrait of Rosa de Salazar y Gabiño, countess of Monteblanco and Montemar, circa. 1764–1771, attributed to Peruvian Cristobal Lozano; and a sculpture of the Virgin Mary attributed to Francisco Xavier de Brito, who was active in Minas Gerais, Brazil, in the mid-1700s.

This fall, a selection of objects will make their debut in the exhibition “Painted Cloth: Fashion and Ritual in Colonial America,” which will examine the social role of textiles and their visual representations in different media produced in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela during the 1600s and 1700s.