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

This collection, which is currently in the custody of the PUCP, is part of the Julia Codesido Foundation.

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 the masculine presence and guided by the colonial values that persisted in the culture of the time.


This painting belongs to the initial stage of indigenismo in the works of Julia Codesido. In this painting, an indigenous woman with very marked facial features can be seen, who poses in front while her face is slightly turned to the 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. The work represents a standing woman, with braids and a bare torso, who wears a colored blanket that covers her from her hips to her ankles, and who is in a cobbled room.

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

Female nude

This work presents a nude woman who is reclining on a dark colored divan. From her neck, she hangs a cross, while her left hand covers her mouth and nose, which, together with the depth of her eyes, show her in an abstracted state of 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 works that many women artists left for posterity, and which, for several centuries, had been forgotten. In this sense, Julia Codesido was undoubtedly a fundamental pillar for the presence of women in the history of peruvian art. Her exploration of new ways of expressing herself and the revaluation of women as cultural, social and political agents have been key to the development of a more inclusive and diverse art scene.

Credits: Story

Content: Dirección de Asuntos Culturales

Texts: Aldair Manay Meza

Photographs:  Camila Tamayo Arrieta

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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