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Circa Date

ca. 1690-1695


Saint Thomas Aquinas, Protector of the University of Cusco by Anonymous, Cusco School (1690-1695). Held by the Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru.

The Cuzco School (Escuela Cuzqueña) was a Catholic artistic tradition based in Cusco, Peru during the Colonial period of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Founded after the 1534 Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, the school is considered the first artistic center that systematically taught European artistic techniques in the Americas.

The Cusqueña paintings were a form of religious art whose main purpose was didactic. The Spanish, attempting to convert the Incas to Catholicism, sent a group of religious artists to Cusco. These artists formed a school for Quechua people and mestizos, teaching them drawing and oil painting. The designation "Cusqueña," however, is not limited to the city of Cusco or to indigenous artists, as Spanish creoles participated in the tradition as well.