This week, I completed my first official research trip to Quito, funded partially by the American Studies Program and the Reves Center for International Studies at William & Mary. I spent 10 days visiting local public and private collections of art and conducting research at the National Archive. I also had several fantastic conversations with experts in the field!
In addition to conducting preparatory research for my dissertation, I also had the opportunity to see the triple portrait of Don Francisco de Arrobe and his two sons (also known as the “mulattoes from Esmeraldas”) at the National Museum (MuNa). Last year, I saw them at the Museo de América in Madrid (where they are housed) but last week I manage to “catch” them during their visit to Quito. It is the first time that the portrait has returned to its place of origin in more than 400 years. The portrait was commissioned by Juan del Barrio de Sepúlveda, a judge of the Royal Audiencia in Quito, from the Andean artist Andrés Sánchez Gallque en 1599. He sent it sent to the King of Spain soon after. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my favourite aspect of the portrait is the detail in Andrés Sánchez Gallque’s depictions of clothing and jewelry. I could spend a lifetime just looking at them!
This research trip was a short one, with the main objectives of familiarizing myself with the local archives and collections and starting to build a scholarly network in the city. While these objectives were accomplished, I now think that the trip was too short! I cannot wait to return for a longer stay next year.