“Our Lady of the Forsaken”



The Indianapolis Museum of Art had a recent temporary exhibition devoted to 17th-century Spanish and Latin American art. As part of the many events surrounding the exhibit, the museum hosted a two-day symposium that brought together art historians to give lectures, discuss issues, and put the works in perspective.

I attended the symposium hoping to see if I could find connections to music of the period.

It was a packed two days and, although there was nothing directly related to music, I came away inspired mainly because I was reminded that the music I perform and research exists in a much wider context. The many lectures on art, literature, and politics drove home the point that music is a small yet important piece of a large puzzle.

I sometimes get so caught up in the details of what I do as performer that the big picture can get lost.

Another source of inspiration for me was the exhibit itself. I cannot possibly describe the works on display and give them justice, but, suffice it to say, the collection was just stunning. One piece, in particular, had me coming back for multiple visits. All total, I went back around half-a-dozen times.

The painting I’m referring to is a depiction of Our Lady of the Forsaken (“Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados”) by Tomás Yepes (see below). Painted in 1644, Yepes recreated in minute detail the way the statue of the Virgin appeared, with all of its many adornments and votive offerings.The painting falls under the category trampantojos del divino, meaning “divine trompe l’oeil.”

I love trompe l’oeil’s, in general, but this one stands out for me above any other, yet I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m so drawn. On every return I’d study all the detail, looking for something new, something I hadn’t seen before. And while I never left disappointed, I still can’t figure out why she’s so fascinating.

Sadly, the exhibit closed in early January, but I do have the catalog and can view her anytime. I will get to the bottom of it at some point.

Nuestra Señora

(Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados, Tomás Yepes, 1644, Patrimonio Nacional, Real Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, Madrid)

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