Bachiller Cotrina’s dream

By Santa Clara Museum

The Vision of the Bachelor Cotrina (1668) by Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y CeballosSanta Clara Museum

Signed by the colonial painter Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos, this oil represents the vision that bachiller Cotrina, a creole who lived in Santafé during the mid-17th century, received in dreams. As we shall see, the iconography of this work is unique in New Granada’s painting context.

Kneeling in front of the Virgin, we see Juan Cotrina, the protagonist of this dream. The title of bachiller that accompany his name, makes reference that he took basic studies. Born in Tunja, Cotrina lived most of his life in Santafé, where he served as chaplain.Cotrina was well known for had lived a mystical experience: a dream in which he had a very vivid vision of the Virgin. According to several chroniclers of the time, motivated by his dream, he asked Antonio Acero de la Cruz a painting of his vision. In it, the Virgin is presented holding a rosary in one of her hands and the Child Jesus, in the other one. At her feet, we can see the figures of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier in prayer position. This image is known as Our Lady of Las Aguas and is located in a church that has the name of this same Marian dedication.

Kneeling in front of the Virgin, we see Juan Cotrina, the protagonist of this dream. The title of bachiller that accompany his name, makes reference that he took basic studies. Born in Tunja, Cotrina lived most of his life in Santafé, where he served as chaplain.Cotrina was well known for had lived a mystical experience: a dream in which he had a very vivid vision of the Virgin. According to several chroniclers of the time, motivated by his dream, he asked Antonio Acero de la Cruz a painting of his vision. In it, the Virgin is presented holding a rosary in one of her hands and the Child Jesus, in the other one. At her feet, we can see the figures of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier in prayer position. This image is known as Our Lady of Las Aguas and is located in a church that has the name of this same Marian dedication.

Kneeling in front of the Virgin, we see Juan Cotrina, the protagonist of this dream. The title of bachiller that accompany his name, makes reference that he took basic studies. Born in Tunja, Cotrina lived most of his life in Santafé, where he served as chaplain.Cotrina was well known for had lived a mystical experience: a dream in which he had a very vivid vision of the Virgin. According to several chroniclers of the time, motivated by his dream, he asked Antonio Acero de la Cruz a painting of his vision. In it, the Virgin is presented holding a rosary in one of her hands and the Child Jesus, in the other one. At her feet, we can see the figures of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier in prayer position. This image is known as Our Lady of Las Aguas and is located in a church that has the name of this same Marian dedication.

Santa Clara’s oil does not follow that iconography. Instead, on it we see the moment in which the Virgin speaks with the bachiller. Mary gestures, whose right hand rests in Cotrina’s shoulder, while her left one remains raised, suggest the course of this dialogue. The bachelor, in prayer position and with his gaze directed to the Virgin, listens carefully.

Elements as the skirt, the cape, and the jewelry that dress up the Virgin suggest that the painting represents a sculpture of Mary, specifically a sculpture created to be dressed. The practice of “dressing” the sculptures was very common during the colonial period.Regarding this point, some questions remain open: Is perhaps Vásquez representing a specific sculpture? Why did the painter choose to represent Mary following the model of a sculpture and not following the picture located in Las Aguas church? Why this painting is different from the one that can be found in Las Aguas church?

Elements as the skirt, the cape, and the jewelry that dress up the Virgin suggest that the painting represents a sculpture of Mary, specifically a sculpture created to be dressed. The practice of “dressing” the sculptures was very common during the colonial period.Regarding this point, some questions remain open: Is perhaps Vásquez representing a specific sculpture? Why did the painter choose to represent Mary following the model of a sculpture and not following the picture located in Las Aguas church? Why this painting is different from the one that can be found in Las Aguas church?

The last detail that draws our attention is the signature at the bottom of the painting. Even though we still do not know with certainty why some colonial paints have a signature and others does not, it is possible that Vásquez signed this work due to on it he represents in an original manner a unique and local vision of Cotrina’s dream theme. Thus, by signing he would be pointing out his inventive ability.Lastly, the date that accompanies the signature, 1668, allows us to establish that this oil is the first testimony of Cotrina’s vision, because the chroniclers that wrote about this dream did it since 1674.

The last detail that draws our attention is the signature at the bottom of the painting. Even though we still do not know with certainty why some colonial paints have a signature and others does not, it is possible that Vásquez signed this work due to on it he represents in an original manner a unique and local vision of Cotrina’s dream theme. Thus, by signing he would be pointing out his inventive ability.Lastly, the date that accompanies the signature, 1668, allows us to establish that this oil is the first testimony of Cotrina’s vision, because the chroniclers that wrote about this dream did it since 1674.

Credits: Story

Museum Director
María Constanza Toquica Clavijo
 
 Museology
Manuel Amaya Quintero
 
Curatorship
Anamaría Torres Rodríguez
María Isabel Téllez Colmenares
 
Collection Management
Paula Ximena Guzmán López
 
Editorial
Tanit Barragán Montilla
 
Communications
Andrea Valentina Bastidas Cano
 

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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