Próspero Carbonell: Mural Paintings of the House of the Founder of Tunja: Marks of Nobility Viewed from the Perspective of a “Global Renaissance”

Rediscovered in the mid-twentieth century and restored in the 1960s, the mural paintings of the Casa del Fundador, Gonzalo Suárez Rendón (or the Founder of Tunja), have been studied mainly in iconographic terms, where special emphasis has been placed on the tracking of visual and textual sources that arrived from Europe, and served as a reference for the elaboration of the painted cycles in the New Kingdom of Granada (now central Colombia). This research proposes a new interpretation of the late-sixteenth century wall paintings based on a comparative analysis between contemporary literature (the Elegies of Illustrious Men of the Indies by Juan de Castellanos) and the images depicted in the ceilings, while giving special attention to the heraldry represented within the framework of a Global Renaissance. This project proposes that the mural paintings, understood as marks of nobility, helped the heirs of the founder to retain political power. Carbonell argues that, when claiming the rights to land inherited by Miguel Suárez de Figueroa (the founder’s firstborn son), the process of proving nobility, especially under the „eyesight“ of the Spanish government, the representations on the ceilings were fundamental in demonstrating the lineage and the social status of the family.

Próspero Carbonell received his Master’s degree in Art History in March 2019 at the Universidad de Los Andes, and is currently a Master’s student in Plastic, Electronic and Time Arts at the same university. From 2014 to 2017, he worked as an art and art history teacher at the Montessori British School in Bogotá. In 2018, he assisted the course ‘Afro-Brazilian Art’ led by the Professor Juliana Ribeiro at the Universidad de Los Andes. His research interests include Latin American Studies, Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Classic Antiquity, Renaissance Art, and visual and cultural history in the New Kingdom of Granada.


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