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Madonna of Montserrat


Unidentified, Cuzco School
Probably Andean South America
Madonna of Montserrat, c. eighteenth century
oil on canvas; 67 x 42 1/2

This painting is a tribute to the miraculous statue known as the Moreneta which is venerated at the legendary Benedictine Monastery of Montserrat, in the mountains of Catalonia, near Barcelona in southern Spain. The statue, named for the dark color of the Virgin's face, is a Romanesque sculpture carved out of wood, from the 12th or early 13th century. In the painting, the baby Jesus holds a saw which is the emblem of Montserrat. The mountain is distinguished by a double peak separated by a deep cleft, a topographical feature which gave it (and the monastery) its name: "the sawed mountain," or "serrated mountain." Georgetown's painting was found in a remote hill town in Guatemala. The style of the painting is typical of the Cuzco School in the southern Andes of Peru, where an Italian Jesuit named Bernardo Bitti worked and taught in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.