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Simón BolívarTravels and Transformations of a Cultural Icon$
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Maureen G. Shanahan and Ana María Reyes

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062624

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062624.001.0001

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Simón Bolívar’s Itinerant Portraits

Simón Bolívar’s Itinerant Portraits

Visual Conquest and the Production of an Icon

(p.27) 1 Simón Bolívar’s Itinerant Portraits
Simón Bolívar

Emily A. Engel

University Press of Florida

Emily Engel considers how the early portraits of Simón Bolívar demonstrate the activation of visual imagery as a necessary component in the independence process during a pivotal moment in American history. Portraits of the Liberator built on existing colonial viceregal traditions while deviating from the past in order to articulate a distinctive iconography of political change. This heterogeneous body of military portraits connoted broad-reaching affiliations with nascent revolutionary ideologies. Bolívar used the images to position himself as an agent of international political change, while his supporters commissioned, collected, and displayed Bolivarian portraits as visual demonstrations of loyal allegiance designed to further emphasize the inevitability of his rise to power and the subsequent demise of Spanish imperial domination. Even less ardent allies temporarily displayed Bolivarian portraits as they negotiated their social positions in the liminal space between imperialism and nationalism. Collectively, Bolivarian portraits produced during the Liberator’s lifetime articulated the foundation for the transition of the hero into an icon in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   Portraits, Colonial, Iconography, independence, Liberator, imperialism, nationalism

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