Juan Camilo Rojas

Fellowship Date

March 01, 2019 to April 30, 2019


‘The preacher must know how to paint, but not appear to be a painter:’ Rhetoric and Image in ‘Arte the sermones’ (1677) by Fray Martín de Velasco / ‘El predicador ha de saber pintar, pero no parecer pintor.’ Retórica e imagen en el Arte de sermones (1677) de Fray Martín de Velasco

Arte de sermones (The Art of Preaching) was written by Martin de Velasco, a Franciscan friar from the New Kingdom of Granada (present-day Colombia). It was published first in Cádiz, Spain in 1677 and later in Mexico City in 1728. This book was widely used by several religious orders in Spanish America to teach clergymen how to compose and preach sermons. Following the Classical rhetorical tradition, de Velasco established a connection between rhetoric and image, hoping that parishioners who listened to the sermons would form mental images –frequently exemplified in paintings– to be persuaded of religious and political values. This project will study this connection between rhetoric and image and influence of this book on sermons published in New Spain that the Latin American Library at Tulane University preserves on its Rare Books Collection.


Juan Camilo Rojas (Medellín, Colombia, 1987-) is an independent scholar focused on the cultural and intellectual history of the New Kingdom of Granada from the 16th to the 18th centuries. He earned a BA in History from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and an MA in History from the Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá), where he was awarded the Germán Colmenares Scholarship. He is the author of articles on the cultural history of images published in journals, books and exhibition catalogues. He is also the author of Pintura alegórica y diferenciación social: los techos artesonados de Tunja en el siglo XVII (Bogotá: ICANH, 2017). This publication is a recognition of his work as the best MA dissertation on colonial history in Colombia in 2016, by the Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia (ICANH).