Visualizing Guadalupe

[ Latin American Studies ]

Visualizing Guadalupe

From Black Madonna to Queen of the Americas

By Jeanette Favrot Peterson

Spanning some three hundred years, this masterful study of the transmission of the Virgin of Guadalupe from Spain to the Americas and back again explores the subjectivity of seeing and the power of an image at the intersection of religion and politics.

January 2014


33% website discount price


8.5 x 11 | 348 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-73775-4

The Virgin of Guadalupe is famously migratory, traversing continents and crossing and recrossing oceans. Guadalupe’s earliest cult originated in medieval Iberia, where Our Lady of Guadalupe from Extremadura, Spain, played a significant role in the reconquista and garnered royal backing. The Spanish Guadalupe accompanied the conquistadors as part of the spiritual arsenal used to Christianize the Americas, where new images of the Virgin acted as catalysts to implant her devotion within multiethnic constituencies.

This masterful study by Jeanette Favrot Peterson traces the transmission of Guadalupe as la Virgen de ida y vuelta from Spain to the Americas and back again, analyzing how the Spanish and Mexican titular images, and a selection of the copies they inspired, operated within the overlapping spheres of religion and politics. Peterson explores two central paradoxes: that only through a material object can a divine and invisible presence be authenticated and that Guadalupe’s images were made to work for enacting revolutionary change while preserving the colonial status quo. She examines the artists who created images of Guadalupe, their patrons, and the diverse viewing audiences for whom those images were intended. This exegesis reveals that visual evidence functioned on a par with written texts (treatises, chronicles, and sermons of ecclesiastical officialdom) in measuring popular beliefs and political strategies.

Preface and Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Subjectivity of Seeing

Chapter 1: The Sacrality of Blackness

Chapter 2: “Because She Was of Their Color”

Chapter 3: Her Presence in Her Absence

Chapter 4: Making Guadalupe

Chapter 5: A “Book of Miracles”

Chapter 6: Sacred Cloth and Veiled Body

Chapter 7: Aura and Authorship

Chapter 8: The Civil/Savage Paradox

Chapter 9: The Viceroys and the Virgin

Chapter 10: Collecting Guadalupe




Jeanette Favrot Peterson is Professor of Art and Architectural History at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is the author of The Paradise Garden Murals of Malinalco: Utopia and Empire in Sixteenth-Century Mexico, which won the College Art Association’s Charles Rufus Morey Book Award, and coeditor of Seeing Across Cultures in the Early Modern World.

"This handsome volume, beautifully illustrated by a pre-eminent art historian of Colonial Mexico, combines the appeal of a coffee-table book with scholarship…a monumental piece of scholarship."
The Catholic Historical Review

“This is a work of magisterial scope and scholarship on the phenomenon of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Spain and the Americas in the early modern period, especially the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. . . . Peterson pulls to the forefront elements that have been left in the background or taken for granted in a fair amount of the literature on the Virgin of Guadalupe, making us see the images and narratives anew. . . A really smart story and a distinctly engaging one.”
—Stacie G. Widdifield, Professor of Art History, University of Arizona, and author of The Embodiment of the National in Late Nineteenth-Century Mexican Painting

“This is an outstanding book. It will be of great importance, one of the most important books to be published in many years. I suspect it will become the definitive source on a topic of central importance to the study of Mexican art and culture, the Virgin of Guadalupe.”
—Charlene Villaseñor Black, Associate Professor of Art History, UCLA, and author of Creating the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire

"Incredibly thorough in both research and analysis, this book sets a standard for scholars of Spanish and Mexican art, religion, and culture."
—Lindsay King, Library Journal

"The book expands the understanding of the connections between sacred representations and the ways they are envisioned by different communities of the faithful. . . . Future researches on Latin American sacred art and Mexican culture in general will indeed be inspired by Visualizing Guadalupe."
The Americas

2015 The Association for Latin American Art Margaret Arvey Book Award
Honorable Mention