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    El Túpac Amaru de Palacio y su autor
    Oiga (Lima, Perú). -- No. 485 (Jul. 27, 1972)
    p. 10 : ill.
    Journal article – Essays
    "El Túpac Amaru de Palacio y su autor." Oiga (Lima, Perú), no. 485 (July 27, 1972):10.

This enthusiastic article in the magazine Oiga reports on the replacement of the portrait of the Spanish conqueror of Peru for one of Túpac Amaru II, the indigenous forefather of independence in the main hall of the Palacio de Gobierno. The article underscores that this was “something that Oiga had requested, recommended, and demanded for many [years].” The article makes no mention of the author of the painting taken down—by academic painter Daniel Hernández—but focuses instead on the new image, created by police officer Néstor Quiroz López. The chief of the Casa Militar de Palacio became aware of Quiroz López’s taste for painting because the latter provided security services at the seat of the executive branch. The chief convinced the policeman to make this large-scale image of Túpac Amaru II “in fifteen days.” The article describes how de facto President General Juan Velasco Alvarado interrupted a cabinet meeting to undertake the ceremony at which the image of Pizarro was replaced with the image of Túpac Amaru II and the name of the palace ceremonial hall changed in the same fashion.


This article focuses on the political, instead of the artistic significance of the official ceremony at which Francisco Pizarro (1476–1541)—Spanish conqueror and founder of the City of the Kings (Lima)—was replaced by Túpac Amaru II as the namesake and presiding figure of the main hall in the Palacio de Gobierno.

The first period of the so-called Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas (1968–75) was characterized by social reform and by an interest in symbolic representation. Its emblem was the figure of Túpac Amaru II (José Gabriel Condorcanqui, 1738–81), a curaca or chief of Incan descent who, in 1780, led the most important Andean uprising against the Spanish empire, an event largely ignored in traditional Spanish-American historiography. Between 1970 and 1971, an art competition was held in order to obtain an official image of the indigenous hero, but was ultimately declared null and void.

The symbolic act of replacing the image of the Spanish conqueror with the image of the indigenous forefather of independence was less controversial than the fact that the work chosen was by Néstor Quiroz López, a humble policeman with a taste for painting. The work replaced a portrait by Daniel Hernández (1856–1932), a recognized academic painter who had even served as the director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes from the time of its founding in 1919 through 1932. This indifference to “the specifically artistic” was met with protest from painter de Szyszlo, whose statements were what motivated this response, and from writer Néstor Espinoza (b. 1938), among others [on that subject, see in the ICAA digital archive by Espinoza “Machu Picchu y Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 1139229)]. In 1974, the painting by Quiroz López was replaced by another image of the same hero created by Mario Salazar Eyzaguirre, an army captain who would later become major general. In 2003, that second version was replaced by a work by artist Armando Villegas (1926–2013).

This controversy can be seen as a precedent to the one that ensued in 2004 in response to the removal of the monument to Pizarro by North American sculptor Charles Cary Rumsey (1879–1922) placed in the Plaza Mayor in Lima in 1935. The intensity of both debates illustrates the ongoing importance to Peruvians of the trauma of conquest and its subsequent political uses.

[For further reading on Túpac Amaru II, see the following articles in the archive: by General EP Felipe de la Barra “¿Cómo fue Túpac Amaru?” (doc. no. 865441); (unsigned) “Convocan a concurso: monumento a Túpac Amaru se levantará en el Cuzco” (doc. no. 1053438); by Alfredo Arrisueño Cornejo “Convocan a concurso de pintura para perpetuar la imagen plástica del mártir José Gabriel Condorcanqui” (doc. no. 865422), and “Declaran desierto el Concurso de Pintura ‘Túpac Amaru II’” (doc. no. 865498); (unsigned) “En busca de la imagen arquetípica de Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 865702); by Daniel Valcárcel “El retrato de Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 1052165); and by A. O. Z. “Túpac Amaru: ¿verdadero retrato?” (doc. no. 865460)].

Daniel Contreras Medina
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru