Women in the art of Julia Codesido

Julia Codesido was a peruvian painter, a pioneer in challenging the gender roles of her time and exposing the presence of women in 20th century art.

By Pontifical Catholic University of Peru

Esta colección, que actualmente se encuentra bajo custodia de la PUCP, forma parte de la Fundación Julia Codesido.

Santusa Santusa (ca. 1927-1929) by Julia CodesidoPontifical Catholic University of Peru

Julia Codesido's art work

Julia Codesido was a peruvian artist influenced by the indigenist movement of the early 20th century. This allowed her work to be strongly marked by an andean aesthetic and sensibility, mainly represented by women.

The challenges of her art work

These aspects were clearly revolutionary for those years, since, until then, education in the arts was strongly marked by a male presence and guided by the colonial values that persisted in the culture of the time.


This painting belongs to the initial stage of indigenism in Julia Codesido's art works. Here she portrays an indigenous woman with very marked facial features, who poses from the front while her face is slightly turned to one side.

From the 16th century to the mid-20th century, the absence of women, particularly mestizo, indigenous people, afro-descendants, and migrants, was a normalized aspect, both in artistic representations and in the Peruvian art scene. However, Julia Codesido's art work sought to make visible this sector of the population of women who were forgotten by society and the government.

India desnuda India desnuda (ca. 1923-1925) by Julia CodesidoPontifical Catholic University of Peru

India Desnuda

In this painting, Julia Codesido develops the characteristic andean theme of the 20th century. Here she represents a woman with braids and a naked torso, who wears a colored blanket that covers her from the hips to the ankles, and stands in a cobbled room.

Desnudo reclinado Desnudo reclinado (1929) by Julia CodesidoPontifical Catholic University of Peru

Desnudo Femenino

This work presents the nude of a woman lying on a dark colored divan. A cross hangs from her neck, while her left hand covers her mouth and nose, which together with the depth of her eyes, leave her in a state of abstraction from the outside.

Definitely, the art of Julia Codesido, based on an indigenist aesthetic and marked by a strong political and social component, challenged the Western and colonialist academic artistic canons, which were the pillars of a history of Peruvian art that did not contemplate the presence or the contribution, in an active way, of women within the social framework.

Limeña Limeña, Julia Codesido, Siglo XX, From the collection of: Pontifical Catholic University of Peru
Manta limeña Manta limeña, Julia Codesido, 1945, From the collection of: Pontifical Catholic University of Peru
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Finally, it is necessary to highlight the relevance of the art works that many female artists leave to posterity, and that, for many centuries, had been forgotten. In this sense, Julia Codesido was, without question, a fundamental pillar for the presence of women in the history of peruvian art. Her exploration of new ways of expression and the revaluation of women as a cultural, social and political agents, have been key to the development of a more inclusive and diverse artistic scene.

Credits: Story

Content: Dirección de Asuntos Culturales

Photographs: Dirección de Asuntos Culturales

Moyano-Chiang, G. (2020). Indias Huancas de Julia Codesido. Espacio, Tiempo y Forma. Serie VII, Historia del Arte, pp. 221–250.  

Vallenas, A. (Ed.). (2014). Los tesoros culturales de la PUCP: Catálogo de arte prehispánico y popular [2]. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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