Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Schreffler

Second Advisor

Dr. Eric Garberson

Third Advisor

Dr. Catherine Roach

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Andrew Chesnut




By Marina Mellado Corriente, MA.

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Art Historical and Curatorial Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Virginia Commonwealth University, 2015

Major Director: Michael Schreffler, Associate Professor, Department of Art History

The educational endeavor that the Jesuits – members of the religious order known as the Society of Jesus – carried out in Mexico in the course of the colonial period, when this territory belonged to the Viceroyalty of New Spain (sixteenth to nineteenth centuries), was exceptional. Even though this endeavor has been extensively studied, not much has been written about the edifices, and their significant artistic contents, that not only facilitated the endeavor, but also allowed it to thrive. With the aim of contributing to fill that gap in the scholarly literature, this study engages in an artistic and architectural examination of one among the dozens of school complexes that the Jesuits built and decorated in New Spanish territory: the College of Oaxaca. This establishment was the primary educational institution in one of the most prosperous cities of the viceroyalty, and it ranked third in importance among the colleges that the Jesuits founded in New Spain, representing a clear example of the process of spiritual, intellectual and material expansion that the Society of Jesus carried out in Spanish America. By locating, transcribing and interpreting primary sources (primarily inventories and commissions for works of art) that have not been noticed before or have remained unpublished, and by analyzing the material remains that have survived to this day, it has been possible to reveal that the former Jesuit complex – which today serves, simultaneously, as an apartment building, an indoor parking, a series of storefronts, and a church served by a community of Jesuits – once featured a significantly rich artistic and architectural program, the result of assimilating, but also of rejecting, local and Jesuit traditions. This program, unfortunately, has been progressively disappearing since the expulsion of the Jesuits from Oaxaca in 1767.


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