Rare Exhibition of Work by Cristóbal de Villalpando at the Met

A 1683 work by Mexican artist Cristóbal de Villalpando has left its native land and is being exhibited, reportedly for the first time, in a foreign country. The iconic canvas is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Villalpando was commissioned to paint “Moses and the Brazen Serpent and the Transfiguration of Jesus,” painted for a chapel in Puebla Cathedral. The work is considered particularly compelling for its juxtaposition of the Old with the New Testaments.

At the top of the piece is the New Testament transfiguration of Jesus’ corporeal body into the heavens, into the light. The lower portion of the image canvas depicts the biblical story in which Moses utilized the image of the serpent to heal the snake-poisoned Israelites.

Beginning on Tuesday, July 25, the painting by Villalpando will go on public display at the Met. The canvas will be part of “Cristóbal de Villalpando: Mexican Painter of the Baroque” exhibition. The exhibition will feature 10 additional paintings by the artist. As is the case with “Moses and the Brazen Serpent and the Transfiguration of Jesus,” a majority of these other works have not been exhibited anywhere else in the world, let alone in the United States.

Villalpando likely is best known for his ecclesiastical commissions, like “Moses and the Brazen Serpent and the Transfiguration of Jesus.” Nonetheless, Villalpando was an accomplished portrait artist as well. He is famous for his 1695 painting of the main square in Mexico City. The painting depicts the Mexican capital’s main buildings, market, and canal.

The exhibition of Villalpando’s work is scheduled to run at the Met through October 15. Staff of the museum anticipate that the exhibition will prove to be well attended from the beginning to the end of its run at the Met.

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