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Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar

José Joaquín Bermejo, Pedro José Díaz

European Art

On View: American Identities: A New Look, American Landscape/Colony to Nation, 5th Floor
Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar is portrayed in her Lima home dressed in a brilliantly embroidered tobajilla (ankle-length gown). She stands at her dressing table before an arched entry that gives way to a manicured landscape and the grand archway of the Paseo de Aguas (see illustration) leading to the Plaza de Acho, Lima’s famed bullring founded by Doña Mariana and her husband. The sitter became a leading social figure and hostess of a salon frequented by the countess of Monteblanco and Montemar (whose portrait is also displayed in this exhibition) and others of the Creole and peninsular Spanish elite.

Doña Mariana was best known, however, as a central figure in one of Lima’s most notorious social scandals of the day. Her hand was initially promised to Hipólito de Landaburrú, many years her senior and allegedly “uglier than an excommunication.” This proposed marriage, famously unwanted and unconsummated, was avoided when Mariana entered the convent. Reemerging from the cloister in 1755, after her fiancé had died, Doña Mariana married Hipólito’s wealthy nephew, Colonel Agustín de Landaburrú y Rivera, Lima’s alcalde (mayor).

Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar está representada en su casa de Lima llevando una tobajilla (vestido hasta el tobillo) brillantemente bordada. Doña Mariana ha sido retratada en su tocador frente a una arquería que se abre a un cuidado paisaje y a la magnífica arcada del Paseo de Aguas (ver ilustración), la cual conduce a la Plaza de Acho, una célebre plaza de toros en Lima, fundada por doña Mariana y su marido. La modelo era una importante figura social y anfitrio-na de un salón frecuentado por la condesa de Monteblanco y Montemar (cuyo retrato también se ve en esta exposición) y otros criollos y españoles peninsulares de la élite.

Doña Mariana era conocida por sobre todo como la figura central de uno de los escándalos sociales más notorios en la Lima de la época. Su mano había sido prometida a Hipólito de Landaburrú, muchos años mayor y según se decía “más feo que una excomunión.” Este matrimonio propuesto, no deseado y no consumado, se evitó cuando Mariana entró al convento. Al resurgir del claustro en 1755, después de la muerte de su prometido, doña Mariana se casó con el poderoso sobrino de Hipólito, el Coronel Agustín de Landaburrú y Rivera, alcalde de Lima.

MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Lima, Peru
  • DATES ca. 1780
    DIMENSIONS Canvas: 78 1/8 x 50 1/16 in. (198.4 x 127.2 cm) frame: 81 x 53 7/8 x 2 1/2 in. (205.7 x 136.8 x 6.4 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Unsigned
    INSCRIPTIONS Inscribed lower right in cartouche: "La Sra. Da Ma / riana Belsunso / y Salasar. / Na / tural de Lima M[u?] / ger legitima de Coronol Agustin de Landal[uru?] y Rivera"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. L.H. Shearman
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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    CAPTION José Joaquín Bermejo (Peruvian, active ca. 1760-1792). Doña Mariana Belsunse y Salasar, ca. 1780. Oil on canvas, Canvas: 78 1/8 x 50 1/16 in. (198.4 x 127.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. L.H. Shearman, 1992.212
    IMAGE x-ray, detail, CONS.1992.212_xrs_detail01.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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