Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


History of Art


Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) was the most famous of the Sevillian painters who participated in the overseas art trade. The artist sent several hundred works to destinations in the viceroyalty of Peru during his career. While his participation in this long-distance endeavor can be documented between 1636 and 1662, a time span which covers the majority of his career, to date this aspect of the artist’s production has remained a minor focus of scholars.

This dissertation uses the lost commission of 1646-47 that Zurbarán produced for the nuns of the convent of La Encarnación in Lima to help formulate a social history of the overseas art trade. Although the convent and its art treasures were lost, a large amount of documentary evidence remains with which the transaction can be reconstructed. This evidence includes the fortuitously detailed commission documents themselves and a court case that Zurbarán brought against the captain of a ship who damaged an earlier shipment of paintings the artist had sent to Portobelo in 1636. Also considered is Zurbarán’s technique and the logistics of packing and shipping works for delivery to distant patrons. This dissertation also examines the nature of female monastic patronage in the Post-Tridentine world. This was a world in which Spanish and Latin American nuns were limited by enclosure and other rules that came out of the Council of Trent, but it was a world in which these women thrived as patrons of the arts despite such limitations. Finally, a reconstruction of the lost commission is offered using the structure and language of the commission documents.