Acquired Yesterday: Our Lady of Guadalupe


Manuel Arellano, Mexico, Virgin of Guadalupe (La Virgen de Guadalupe), signed and dated 1691, purchased with funds from the Bernard and Edith Lewin Collection of Mexican Art Deaccession Fund

Who isn’t familiar with the iconic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe? She is without question one of the most revered and reproduced images of the Christian world.

According to tradition, in 1531 the Virgin appeared to the Indian Juan Diego on three different occasions, asking him to visit Bishop Juan de Zumárraga so he could build her a chapel at the hill of Tepeyac, north of Mexico City.

At first, the bishop refused to believe Juan Diego, but when he unfolded his cloak filled with the rare flowers that the Virgin had sent as proof, and revealed her miraculously imprinted image on Juan Diego’s tunic, the bishop fell to his knees and begged the Virgin for forgiveness. According to tradition the image imprinted on the Indian’s cloak is the same icon still venerated today at the Basílica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, which continues to attract millions of pilgrims each year.


Acquiring a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe has been one of my priorities for many years, but I was waiting for just the right one. When I located this painting signed and dated by Manuel Arellano in 1691 (one of the most important artists of the seventeenth century in Mexico), I was thrilled. A few days later, after the painting arrived at LACMA, I was able to decode the barely legible inscription above his signature, which reads: Tocada al original (after the original).


This made the acquisition doubly exciting, as it means that Arellano based his depiction on the original image of the Virgin. Images that were closer to the original were believed to be more miraculous and were therefore more valued. The painting must have been commissioned by someone who was in need of a miracle-making image. That this image of Guadalupe made its way to LACMA almost four centuries after it was created is just short of being a small miracle itself.

Ilona Katzew, Curator of Latin American Art

8 Responses to Acquired Yesterday: Our Lady of Guadalupe

  1. sweet paiting. Can’t wait to go see it. Is part of an upcoming exhibit ?

  2. lacma says:

    Hi Hero – the painting will be installed in our Latin American galleries in mid-July. We’ll let you know as soon as it’s on view.

  3. ash meer says:

    just be glad you don’t have visit her on your hands and knees!

  4. Cat says:

    that looks lovely! can’t wait to see it in person.

    will you also be doing any pompeii ticket giveaways again?

  5. Terri says:

    I might just have to drive down from Oregon to see her. She is beautiful. I haven’t made the trek down to LACMA since the TUT exhibit and it was well worth the drive

  6. norma landa flores says:

    Thanks for bringing such a realistic copy of La Virgen De Guadalupe to Los Angeles. It looks like the original painting in Tepeyac. I’ll be very happy to pay a visit to LACMA in oder to pay my respects to her and to the artist, Manuel Arellano. Legend has it that La Virgen De Guadalupe’s mission was for all of the people of the America’s to communicate with each other. As a retired professor of Speech Communication, she holds a special place in my heart. Gracias!

    Norma Landa Flores

  7. norma landa flores says:

    I’ll be very happy to pay a visit to LACMA in order to pay my respect to her and the artist, Manuel Arrelano.

  8. charlie says:

    I am a LACMA member and have spent considerable time going through the galleries. I have never seen this image, however, I am very happy that I stumbled across it on your blog! I heard the story of Juan Diego from a trip I took to Mexico City a few years ago and after seeing the original cloak in the Basilica de Guadalupe, it really made an impression on me. After my trip, I did some basic research into imagery of the Virgen and although it is frequently reproduced, I did learn that contemporary work, depicting this scene, is quite hard to come by, as it is mostly housed in museums or cathedrals, and not for sale. Therefore, it is amazing that LACMA was able to acquire such a rare gem! – (and I would love to know more about how the museum acquired this piece..)
    The entire painting looks fantastic; I especially appreciate the detail you posted of the scene taking place in the bottom right corner. I am planning on making a visit within the next week and I am excited to see this piece in person. LACMA is truly an amazing museum and it’s acquisitions like these that keep reminding me of this – keep up the good work!

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