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On 25 April 1716, the city of Potosí received with great pomp and circumstance the newly appointed Viceroy of Peru, Fray Diego Morcillo Rubio de Auñón, who had been serving as archbishop of Charcas. Symbolizing the very body of the king himself, and in the company of the local civil and ecclesiastical hierarchy, he processed through an array of triumphal arches before the assembled crowds of spectators. Over a week, the city feted the viceroy, one highlight being an allegorical masquerade including a float of the splendid mountain of silver. Bartolomé Arzáns de Orsúa y Vela’s description of the viceregal entry celebrates the city’s munificence and loyalty to the Crown, but also contains muted criticism of the colonial extraction that had slowly undermined the city’s fortunes. His paean to the beauty of women in the New World, along with his moral warnings about sexual impropriety, in fact add a dash of excitement to his account of the festivities. The spectacle was also captured in a monumental canvas painted by Melchor Pérez Holguín (ca. 1660–ca. 1725), a creole from Potosí, like Arzáns, and the greatest artist to emerge in colonial Upper Peru (see color plates).

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