Majestic View of the Andes near the Bridge over the Guáitara River, 1,591 Meters from Túquerres, Pasto Province


This watercolor by Manuel María Paz (1820−1902) shows the dramatic gorge carved through the Andes Mountains by the Guáitara River close to Túquerres, Pasto Province (present-day Nariño Department), southwest Colombia. The height of the mountains is emphasized by the small figure of a man trudging along the road next to the river. The watercolor is typical of Paz’s work, which captured the diversity of the population of Colombia and depicted the daily activities and traditional customs of the country’s different ethnic, racial, and social groups. Paz was born in Almaguer in the province of Cauca. He joined the Colombian army at a young age and showed exceptional skills as a cartographer and painter. In 1853 he took over the role of draftsman of the Comisión Corográfica (Chorographic Commission) formerly held by Henry Price (1819–63). The commission, which began work in 1850, was tasked with studying the geography, cartography, natural resources, natural history, regional culture, and agriculture of the Republic of New Granada (present-day Colombia and Panama). Paz worked under Agustín Codazzi (1793–1859), the Italian-born geographer and engineer who co-founded and directed the commission. In 1859, at Codazzi’s death, Paz was among the collaborators who took on the task of reviewing, completing, and publishing the work that the Comisión Corográfica had undertaken since 1850. As a draftsman, Paz executed watercolors and drawings that were very exact and strove to represent the places and people of Colombia in a naturalistic and objective style. These pictures constitute invaluable documentary records for the history and culture of Colombia. They also provided information pertinent to drawing up the maps that were one of the main objectives of the Comisión Corográfica. More than 90 paintings by Paz are preserved at the National Library of Colombia.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Vista majestuosa de los Andes, cerca del puente del Guáitara, a 1591 metros en dirección a Túquerres: Provincia de Pasto

Type of Item

Physical Description

Watercolor on paper ; 24 x 32 centimeters

Last updated: November 16, 2016