Vistas del Sur: Traveler Artists' Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection

As early as the 17th century, artists from Europe and North America began venturing to Latin America to explore and record its rich and varied landscape. Over time, the work of these “traveler artists” impacted, and was influenced by, the work of artists native to the region. Vistas del Sur: Traveler Artists' Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection features more than 200 rarely seen paintings, photographs, works on paper, and books dating from 1638 to 1887, that trace the evolution of landscapes of Latin America by artists from Europe and the Americas, including Frederic Edwin Church, Martin Johnson Heade, Frans Post, Auguste Morisot, José María Velasco, and Marc Ferrez, among others. Their works—which range from romanticized scenes and directly observed illustrations of New World travel and expeditions, to scientific records of botanical, zoological, and ethnographic phenomena—attest to the ways in which traveler artists experienced Latin America, and the challenges they faced in reconciling preconceived ideals with the realities they encountered.

In 1639, Dutch artist Frans Post distinguished himself as one of the first trained European landscapists to paint the New World from direct observation, at a time when landscape painting was still in its infancy. His depictions of Brazil represent the earliest views of the continent featured in Vistas del Sur. Following the Latin American Wars of Independence in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the continent opened up to greater geographic and aesthetic exploration by foreigners. International artists were drawn to the region, inspired by the expeditions of Prussian naturalist and geographer Alexander von Humboldt, as well as by commercial missions dispatched by foreign governments, or their own aesthetic interests. In the mid-19th century, North American artists from the Hudson River School began to venture into the genre of South American landscapes. Frederic Edwin Church aspired to retrace Humboldt’s expedition, capturing it with new techniques and spirit. Near the end of the century, native-born artists began reflecting upon their culture and landscape through a different lens. José María Velasco’s paintings of Mexico not only demonstrate his adoption of the European enlightenment sensibility, but also illustrate the artist’s growing sense of national identity.

Vistas del Sur is arranged in two distinct but related sections. The Richard and Virginia McKernan Gallery presents an introduction to landscapes of Latin America, and an extensive exploration of how European traditions of landscape painting evolved when used to depict the New World. In the Stitzer Family Gallery, Auguste Morisot’s 1886 expedition up the Orinoco River serves as a centerpiece of the installation, and includes photographs, drawings, and prints. Morisot’s archive demonstrates the emergence of photography in the 19th century and its relationship to the conventions of painting and representing the exotic landscape.

The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Hunter College, and is curated by Dr. Harper Montgomery, Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art at Hunter College, New York, and students from her 2015 master’s course, Curatorial Practicum: Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Latin American Landscape

Support for the exhibition has been generously provided by the Vistas del Sur Leadership Committee: Raul and Emilie de Brigard, Katherine and Stephen Dow, Anita Arcuni Ferrante and Anthony Ferrante, Maria Helena Pinheira Penna and Fernando de Mello Barreto, Marenda and Todd Stitzer, Kathy Wadsworth and Jorge Delano, and Kathryn West.

Spanish text.


  • Alexander Von Humboldt 
  • The Picturesque Landscape
  • Pissarro
  • Modern Landscape
  • Auguste Morisot in Venezuela
  • Flora
  • Fauna
  • Costumbrismo
  • Light and Atmosphere
  • Jungle
  • The Book

Bonus Materials (?)

  • Female Eyes on South America
  • video link and/or embed 
  • maps

    (Alexander von Humboldt)

View of Frederica City in Paraíba    (1638)

Landscape with Chapel    (1663)

Humboldt on the Orinoco    (n.d)

View of the Road of Quebra Chángala in the Alto da Boa Vista    (1816–1830)

A View in the Island of Jamaica, of Part of the River Cobre near Spanish Town    (1778)

A View in the Island of Jamaica, of the Spring-Head of Roaring River on the Estate of William Beckford Esq.    (1778)

In Rerum per octennium in Brasilia by Caspar Barlaeus    ((1612-1680))

    (The Picturesque Landscape)

View of Rio de Janeiro    (ca. 1840)

Sunset—A Scene in Brazil    (1864–1865)

Sunset over Pedra da Gávea, Rio de Janeiro    (1860)

On the San Juan    (1871)

The Volcanoes    (1833–34)

View of the Valley of Mexico with Volcanoes and the Texcoco Lake    (1833)

Valley of Mexico    (1875)

View of the City of Caracas from the Calvary    (1839)

Caracas, Venezuela    (1865)

Urao Lagoon    (1852)

The Heart of the Peruvian Andes—A View from the Arequipa Valley with Mount Chachani in the Distance    (1877)

The Cordillera, Venezuela, with Travelers on a Road    (1876)

The Road from Valparaíso to Santiago    (1849)

Cotopaxi, Ecuador    (1853)

Carúpano, Venezuela    (n.d.)

Rounding Up Cattle on the Apurean Plains    (1832)

The Lake of Valencia    (1832)

First View of the Battle of the 24th of July, [sic] 1823, in Maracaybo Lagoon at the Command of General José Padill    (1850)

Second View of the Battle of the 24th of July, [sic] 1823, in Maracaybo Lagoon at the Command of General José Padilla    (1850)

Havana Bay    (1856–66)

View of Havana    (n.d.)

Off Caracas, Venezuela    (1853)


Cove with Sailboat    (1856)

Maiquetía River    (1852)

La Guaira    (1852)

Pariata    (1853)

A Plaza in Caracas    (1854–1858)

New Road, La Guaira    (1852)

    (Modern Landscape)

Taunay Waterfall in Tijuca Forest, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,    (1885)

Waterspout from Lake Texcoco, Valley of Mexico    (1875)

Ahuehuete    (1875)

A Guácharo Cave, Southeast of Caripe (Clara Cave)    (1867)

La Guaira, Venezuela    (1848)

Approaching La Guaira, Venezuela    (1848)

Town of Juan Fernández, Cumberland Bay (Juan Fernández Island)    (1834)

Rio (de Janeiro)    (1838-42)

Saint Lucia    (n.d.)

Morne Fortune, Saint Lucia    (n.d.)

Landscape    (1816)

Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America—Chiapas and Yucatan    (1844)

The Temple at Chichén-Itzá    (1843)

The Pyramid at Uxmal    (1843)

On the river, near Santos, Brazil    (1835)

At the Sugar Mill    (1868–70)

Landscape    (1879)

Genera et species palmarum quas in itinere per Brasiliam annis 1817–1820    (1823)

Rio de Janeiro—View of the Neighborhood of Engenho Velho, Drawn from the Austrian Embassy    (1817–18)

Wooded Landscape    (1837)

Near Mendoza    (1837)

Ensayo ornitológico de la familia Trochilidae (Ornithological Essay of the Trochilidae Family) by Rafael Montes de Oca and Manuel María Villada (Mexico City: Sociedad Mexicana de Historia Natural, 1885)    (1885)

Twelve Views in the Interior of Guiana [sic]    (1840)

    (Auguste Morisot in Venezuela)

Jean Chaffanjon in Ciudad Bolivar upon his return from the expedition    (1867)

Auguste Morisot, three months after his return from the expedition    (1887)


Changuango    (1886)

Flower    (1886)

Red leaves, yellow flowers    (1886)

Cévoyéta    (1886)


Bocachica    (1886)

Vieja loca    (1886)

San Fernando de Atabapo    (1886)

Caribe or golden piranha    (May 2, 1886)


Saint Pierre, Martinique    (February 1886)

Carib Indians, Ciudad Bolívar    (May 1886)

Carib Indian women, Ciudad Bolívar    (May 1886)

Guahiba Indian woman weaving a palm leaf    (November 18, 1886)

Maquiritare Indian crushing corn    (November 21, 1886)

Portrait of Popurito, a Guahibo Indian    (October 10, 1886)

    (Light and Atmosphere)

Crépuscule    (1886)

Cerro Yapacana    (1886)

Playa Peluja    (November 11, 1886)


Ceiba trees    (April 14, 1886)

    (The Book)

Sunset, Basse-Terre, La Soufrière volcano    (February 18, 1886)

Mulatta in the market of Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe    (February 1886)