Akemi Luisa Herráez Vossbrink



Akemi Herráez Vossbrink (Spain) was a Curatorial Fellow of Spanish Paintings at The National Gallery (London) and is currently completing her doctoral thesis at the University of Cambridge. Akemi is interested in the artistic exchanges between the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America, as well as, exploring this topic in her doctoral thesis which focuses on the presence of the Spanish Baroque artist Francisco de Zurbarán’s work in Latin America. During her curatorial fellowship at the National Gallery, she also worked on exhibitions on Spanish artists from other periods such as ‘Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance’ and ‘Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light’. 

During her residency at the Instituto Inclusartiz, Akemi will expand her research interests on artistic exchanges between Spain and Latin America by looking further afield considering Brazil’s unique contact with Asia. She will research the presence of Western interpretations of Chinese artistic motifs, called chinoiserie, in Brazilian colonial art and architecture. These motifs flourished especially in Minas Gerais, featuring in the architecture of churches located in towns such as Sabará and Mariana. The most renowned example is the Church of Nossa Senhora do Ó in Sabará whose interior is covered in red and blue panels, imitating red lacquer, with oriental figures in gold and silver. In Northeast Brazil, Bahia also demonstrates this influence as Chinese porcelain is incorporated into the architecture of churches such as the Church of the Old Seminary in Belém da Cachoeira. These examples have hardly been studied in unison. A thorough study might elucidate the extent to which these influences came directly from China or indirectly from Europe.  

More Informations

Work experience

July 2018 until May 2020 (22-month fellowship)
The CEEH Curatorial Fellow in Spanish Paintings at the National Gallery, London
– Curatorial assistant for the National Gallery exhibitions Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance and Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light. This involved working alongside my curatorial supervisors Letizia Treves and Chris Riopelle discussing loans with museums and
lenders, suggesting displays, conducting provenance checks, authoring entries and an essay in the catalogues, writing labels, working with different departments, translating texts, organizing conferences and study days and leading exhibition tours.
– Working on the Spanish paintings in the National Gallery’s permanent collection helping with rehangs, writing labels, suggesting new attributions and updating the online catalogue with short and long descriptions.

September 2014- August 2015
Graduate Intern at the J. Paul Getty Museum Paintings Department, Los Angeles.
– Updated the online catalogue’s bibliographies and provenances by consulting the Duveen and Knoedler dealer archives at the Getty Research Centre.
– Worked closely with curator Peter Kerber helping him with the displays of the permanent collection as well as the exhibition J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free.
– Conducted catalogue research for the following Getty exhibitions: Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe and Unruly Nature: The Landscapes of Theodore Rousseau.

September 2012
Intern at Christie’s South Kensington Nineteenth-Century Paintings Department, London.
– Displayed paintings for auction at the Nineteenth-Century Paintings September sale.
– Researched and wrote painting descriptions in the sale catalogues.

July 2011
Volunteer at the Fundación Amigos del Prado, Museo del Prado,
– Prepared and coordinated the Prado Museum’s summer lecture series.
– Developed public relation skills at the Foundation’s reception desk.


October 2015- expecting to submit my thesis between May and June 2020
PhD Candidate in History of Art, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England.
September 2013- August 2014
Masters by Research in History of Art, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland.
October 2010- June 2013
B. A. in History of Art, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England.

PhD Thesis Overview

My thesis addresses Spanish Golden Age artist Francisco de Zurbarán’s reception in Latin America, specifically in Peru and Mexico. Focusing on his painting series destined to the Americas, topics such as transatlantic trade, workshop collaboration, colonial copies and Spanish painting collections in Latin America are considered.


October 2015- June 2018 The CEEH Nigel Glendinning Doctoral Spanish Studies Studentship, King’s College, University of Cambridge.
September 2014- August 2015 J. Paul Getty Museum Graduate Internship Grant.
September 2013- August 2014 Edinburgh Santander Masters Scholarship.


“Zurbaranesque Tribes of Israel in the New World” in Zurbarán. Jacob and His
Twelve Sons. Paintings from Auckland Castle, exh. cat. Susan Grace Galassi, Edward Payne and Mark A. Roglán, eds. (Dallas: The Meadows Museum; New York: The Frick Collection, 2017), pp. 74-86.
Gabriele Finaldi et al. Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light, exh. cat. (London: National Gallery; Dublin: National Gallery Ireland, 2019), cat. nos. 2, 6, 13, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 32 and 34.
“Painting in Spain at the Time of Bartolomé Bermejo.” In Bartolomé Bermejo: Master of the Spanish Renaissance, exh. cat. (London: National Gallery, 2019), pp. 32-39.

Upcoming publications

“The Circulation of paintings by Zurbarán and Murillo in the New World.” The Global
Art Market under the Spanish Empire 1500-1800. Journal for Art Market Studies, Technische Universität Berlin (November or December 2019).

Conferences organized

Artistic Trade between Spain and its Viceroyalties form the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries,
Nigel Glendinning Conference, King’s College, University of Cambridge, June 22, 2018.


Spanish and English. Bilingual native speaker.
French. Advanced reading, writing and speaking skills.
Italian. Proficient reading and writing skills.
German. Basic reading and writing skills

Instituto Inclusartiz Proposal- Chinoiserie in Eighteenth-century Brazilian Art and Architecture

Akemi Luisa Herráez Vossbrink

During my stay at the Instituto Inclusartiz I would like to develop my interest in Brazilian colonial art and architecture. Since my doctoral thesis is on the export of Spanish art to the Americas, I would like to expand on this topic considering more global exchanges between Brazil and Asia. Brazil had active trade links with Macau (China) as one of the main Portuguese ports in Asia. During the colonial period, the eighteenth century was the period when this Chinese presence was most notable in Brazilian art and architecture. This western interpretation of Chinese artistic motifs, called chinoiserie, was firstly developed in Europe
reaching Brazil in the early eighteenth century. Chinoiserie especially flourished in the Brazilian region of Minas Gerais which was especially wealthy with the discovery of gold and diamond mines. This style features in church architecture in colonial towns such as Sabará, Mariana and
Casa Atlas. The most notable example is the Church of Nossa Senhora do Ó in Sabará which interior is covered in red and blue panels, imitating red lacquer, with oriental figures in gold and silver.

Some studies have been done on these churches but these have been mostly in Portuguese and there has not been much comparative work with chinoiserie in other parts of colonial Latin America with the exception of the notable exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Winterthur Museum, Delaware titled “Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia”(2015-2017). It would also be interesting to explore the background of the artisans producing chinoiserie art and architecture and whether these were local, European or Chinese. These doubts could be answered by consulting contracts and town censuses in the region of
Minas Gerais held at the Arquivo Público Mineiro, Belo Horizonte. Apart from Minas Gerais, another region where chinoiserie motifs are incorporated into architecture, is Bahia. In this region there is a unique tradition of covering roofs with Chinese porcelain, tiles and plates
called embrechado style which is especially prominent in the Church of the Old Seminary in Belém da Cachoeira. This technique has never been compared to a similar technique in the town of Tunja (Colombia) where church interiors painted red are decorated with Chinese porcelain, gilding and shells. I would like to explore why there was a development of this
technique in these specific regions and how they had different functions within the architectural space.

Apart from chinoiserie in architecture, I would also like to consider its presence in painting, sculpture and decorative arts. For example, the Museu Arquidiocesano de Mairiana has a sculpture of Saint Cecilia with Asian features and the Museu da Inconfidencia in Ouro Preto has an oratory painted red imitating lacquer and oriental figures. I would also like to consider the presence of Chinese objects and clothing in colonial portraiture prominently displayed in Rio de Janeiro’s Museu Nacional de Belas Artes.

Before conducting my fieldwork in the regions of Minas Gerais and Bahia, I would like to start consulting the Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil. There is primary bibliography and historical accounts by Brazilian and Portuguese authors there that I am not able to access in the United Kingdom. I would then like to continue researching the Chinese presence in Rio de Janeiro’s
religious foundations such as the Monastery of São Bento. A week after conducting this preliminary work, I would like to travel about two weeks to Minas Gerais and Bahia considering how the local churches and art incorporate Chinese elements and why there is a special interest in those regions. I would then return to Rio de Janeiro to transform all the
gathered material into a presentation which I later hope to publish as an article.