Peru Arts and Music

By | December 22, 2021


In the colonial period, the Peru reflects the path of Spanish art and architecture, albeit conditioned by the climate, geology and also by indigenous cultural heritage. In the coastal region, adobe and brick constructions prevailed, in the Andean area those in stone. Frequent earthquakes destroyed most of the buildings but there are still some examples of the early Renaissance, of the Plateresque style, of Churriguerism (➔ Churriguera, de). In Cuzco, which essentially maintained the pre-Hispanic layout, and where many buildings overlap the Indian constructions, the cloisters of the convents of S. Francesco and S. Domenico, the facade of S. Girolamo are noteworthy . (16th century); the plateresque facades of the Admiral’s house and the so-called one of the four busts. F. Becerra was responsible for the design of the cathedrals of Lima and Cuzco, begun at the end of the 16th century. B. Bitti, of Italian training, is the most important painter: he is also credited with the relief of the Assumption of the retable of the homonymous church in Juli, on the banks of the Titicaca, but the sculpture is dominated by the Sevillian school, to which they form also indigenous artists, such as FT Yupanqui, author of the popular Virgin of Copacabana of the sanctuary on Titicaca.

In the 17th century. the art of J. Martínez Montañés marked the sculptural production of both Sevillian artists (G. de la Cueva) and local workshops, active in Peru: remarkable the choir stalls of the cathedrals of Lima (1624-26) and of Cuzco. More and more exuberant, the architecture proposed richly decorated facades as retables (in Lima: cathedral, S. Francesco; in Cuzco: church of the Society of Jesus), reaching its highest point with that of S. Agostino in Lima (1720). In Arequipa, near the Misti volcano, the decoration, treated entirely on the surface, invades the facades with a particular effect of horror vacui (church of the Company). In the field of painting, the Cuzco school stood out with the Indian D. Quispe Tito, author, in the 17th century, of works in the cathedral and in the church of S. Sebastiano which reveal an original interpretation of Flemish painting (especially in landscapes) known through prints; between 1661 and 1693 was active B. de Santa Cruz, author of works of broader compositional scope (canvases in the transept of the cathedral). For Peru travel information, please check

The Cuzco school continued in the 18th century with B. Pacheco (active between 1738 and 1752) and M. Zapata (active between 1748 and 1773). In Lima the most significant painters were C. Lozano and the Sevillian J. del Pozo who founded a school of painting (1791). The neoclassical reaction had as exponent in Lima the architect M. Maestro, who transformed numerous church interiors and provided the plans for the San Fernando Medical College (destroyed) and for the cemetery. With the proclamation of independence (1821) the anti-Spanish reaction led to turn to French models, but the tendency to recover the Hispano-indigenous tradition prevailed, giving rise, in the following century, to the so-called Peruvian Renaissance (R. Marquina).

The National School of Fine Arts (1918) gave new impetus to the arts thanks to the painters D. Hernández and J. Sebogal and the sculptor M. Piqueras Cotolí. The indigenous school was formed around Sebogal which between 1920 and 1940 was considered an expression of the official art, but which also later had numerous exponents. The painters J. Vinatea Reynoso, A. Gonzáles «Apurimak», R. Grau, M. de la Torre reacted to the themes and stylistic features of indigenism; the painting by T. Tsuchiya is fantastic. In the field of sculpture, J. Roca Rey is the most prominent personality, known internationally, but we must still remember J. Eielson, J. Piqueras, A. Guzmán, F. Sánchez, C. Runcie. Noteworthy are in work graphic and initiatives of the Huayco EPS group; reminiscences of native myths appear in the paintings of J. Tola.

The neo-colonialism, characteristic of the architecture of the 1940s, was overcome thanks to a group of intellectuals, artists and architects (Grupo Espacio) open to European experiences, and in particular to the lessons of Le Corbusier. Among the various works of the 21st century: San Pedro College in La Molina (Cooper Graña Nicolini Arquitectos, 2001); Interbank headquarters in Lima (H. Hollein, 2001).


After the Spanish conquest, the Inca tradition was joined by the European one which gave rise to the so-called ‘mixed music’, characterized by genres such as the yaraví (poetic-musical form of Inca origin), the wayno (couple dance very widespread in the Andean regions) , and the marinera (dance based on alternating rhythms 3/4 and 6/8) and by instruments such as the chirimía (double-reed aerophone), the virucho (violin), the harp and numerous percussion instruments (tijeraz, cajón and cajita). In the field of cultured music, the first Peruvian composer was J. de Orejón (1706-1765), but only towards the end of the 19th century. attempts were made to give life to a national style with authors such as LD Lavalle (1874-1922). In the first part of the 20th century. distinguished T. Valcárcel (1900-1942); later an internationalist current emerged represented by E.

VICEROYALTY OF PERU Established in 1542, with Lima as its capital, it included the Isthmus of Panama and all the Spanish domains to the South of it, except the Venezuelan coast. As the colonization progressed, the enormity of the area dependent on Lima made it essential to split it up; in the 18th century. the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada (1717-23; 1739) was created, comprising the current Panamá, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador, and the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (1776), with jurisdiction over the current Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. Reduced therefore to the current Peru and Chile, the Viceroyalty of Peru saw in the Peruvian Andes the last Spanish resistance to the Latin American liberation forces, definitively imposed after the battle of Ayacucho in 1824.

Peru Arts and Music