Atahualpa, Fourteenth Inca, 1 of 14 Portraits of Inca Kings
On View: Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
Although indigenous people ranked below Spaniards in Spanish America’s social order, direct descendants of pre-Hispanic nobility were afforded certain political privileges, including the right to hold office in local government. In order to legitimize claims to noble lineage in the viceroyalty of Peru, members of the Inca elite often conspicuously displayed in their homes Europeanized portraits of their ancestors, the fourteen ancient Andean rulers.
The Inca had no pictorial portraiture tradition before the conquest. Soon after European contact, however, series of Inca kings painted by local artists in European portrait styles started to appear in indigenous and Creole inventories. This bust-length portrait series is based on a 1615 Spanish engraving (see illustration).
Aunque los indígenas estaban por debajo de los españoles en el orden social de Hispanoamérica, a los descendientes directos de la nobleza prehispánica se les permitían ciertos privilegios políticos, incluyendo el derecho de tener cargos en el gobierno local. Para legitimar la atribución de linaje noble en el virreinato del Perú, miembros de la élite inca frecuentemente exhibían en sus casas retratos europeizados de sus ancestros, los catorce gobernantes andinos.
Antes de la conquista los incas no tenían una tradición pictórica de retratos. Poco tiempo después del contacto europeo, series de retratos de los reyes incas pintados por artistas locales al estilo de los retratos europeos comenzaron a aparecer en inventarios indígenas y criollos. Esta serie de bustos pintados está basada en un grabado español de 1615 (ver ilustración).
Oil on canvas
Probably mid-18th century
23 5/8 x 21 3/4in. (60 x 55.2cm)
frame: 29 1/8 x 27 5/16 x 2 13/16 in. (74 x 69.4 x 7.1 cm) (show scale)
Inscribed on roundel: "el tirano Bastardo, Atahualpa,"
Dick S. Ramsay Fund, Mary Smith Dorward Fund, Marie Bernice Bitzer Fund, Frank L. Babbott Fund, gift of The Roebling Society and the American Art Council, purchased with funds given by an anonymous donor, Maureen and Marshall Cogan, Karen B. Cohen, Georgia and Michael deHavenon, Harry Kahn, Alastair B. Martin, Ted and Connie Roosevelt, Frieda and Milton F. Rosenthal, Sol Schreiber in memory of Ann Schreiber, Joanne Witty and Eugene Keilin, Thomas L. Pulling, Roy J. Zuckerberg, Kitty and Herbert Glantz, Ellen and Leonard L. Milberg, Paul and Thérèse Bernbach, Emma and J. A. Lewis, Florence R. Kingdon
Portrait of Atahualpa, the Fourteenth Inca King, dressed in the finery of his office and holding a staff in his left hand. This portrait is part of a series of 14 Inca King portraits that is based on the engraving by Antonio de Herrera, which in turn is based on a painted prototype (see Converging Cultures, 1996, p. 239).
Unknown. Atahualpa, Fourteenth Inca, 1 of 14 Portraits of Inca Kings, Probably mid-18th century. Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 21 3/4in. (60 x 55.2cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, Mary Smith Dorward Fund, Marie Bernice Bitzer Fund, Frank L. Babbott Fund, gift of The Roebling Society and the American Art Council, purchased with funds given by an anonymous donor, Maureen and Marshall Cogan, Karen B. Cohen, Georgia and Michael deHavenon, Harry Kahn, Alastair B. Martin, Ted and Connie Roosevelt, Frieda and Milton F. Rosenthal, Sol Schreiber in memory of Ann Schreiber, Joanne Witty and Eugene Keilin, Thomas L. Pulling, Roy J. Zuckerberg, Kitty and Herbert Glantz, Ellen and Leonard L. Milberg, Paul and Thérèse Bernbach, Emma and J. A. Lewis, Florence R. Kingdon, 1995.29.14 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1995.29.14_PS6.jpg)
overall, 1995.29.14_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2012
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Who are they?
This series of 14 bust-length portraits represents historical Inca kings. Their names and positions in the line of royal succession are inscribed on the decorative roundels around each portrait.
I was wondering if these chiefs are real historical figures?
Yes, they are. This series of 14 bust-length portraits represents historical Inca kings.
The earliest known Inca portraits were painted in Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca empire in the Peruvian Andes, as a kind of historical record. Painted for a local market, these portraits helped people to trace their lineage to the pre-Hispanic past. In Cuzco, they were visible manifestations, albeit in European form, of the ancestors who originally built the city. These portraits helped to maintain a historical identity of an idealized past existing prior to the Spanish Conquest.
In order to legitimize claims to noble lineage in the viceroyalty of Peru, members of the Inca elite often conspicuously displayed in their homes Europeanized portraits of their ancestors, the fourteen ancient Andean rulers.
Any idea if they're related or if they were elected by people? And also what time period did they rule?
Yes, they were related. For example: Sinchi Roca, Second Inca King was the son and successor of Manco Cápac and the father of Lloque Yupanqui, the third Inca King. I do not believe they were elected by the people. The first Inca King, Manco Capac ruled from 1500-1545. They all ruled for an average of 30 years.
What do these works convey about the Incas?
These paintings were meant to convey a sense of pride in Inca heritage. They were created in the Spanish colonial period in the city of Cuzco, which had been the capital of the Inca Empire. This set would have belonged to an indigenous elite family.
The medium of oil painting, however, illustrates a blending of cultures in colonial Peru. The technique was something the Inca adopter from the European invaders, but that quickly became very popular.