The painter`s status in the viceroyalty of New Spain is a problematic subject. The change in the artist`s status that took place between the mid-sixteenth century and the late eighteenth century seems to be comparable to the trend in Europe since the Renaissance, which is marked by the movement from the guild to the art academy. This places New Spanish art in the general context of European art. On the other hand, because of the colonial status of New Spain, this similarity can be seen as another proof of derivative nature of the viceregal art. When we look at the isolated events, such as the formation of the guild and the establishment of the academy, it appears almost certain that the elevation of the painter`s social position in the colony depended upon the Spanish initiative. Furthermore, it implies the passiveness in the development of the viceregal art world following the footsteps of its counterparts in Europe. However, if we take a different view point, focusing on the process rather than the results, we may reach a different conclusion. It is evident that the viceregal painter faced different conditions, that is to say a more adverse environment. No lawsuit regarding the alcabala was won in favor of the painter in New Spain, while in Spain there were at least seven successful legal battles which exempted the painter from the tax before its complete abolition. All the autonomous attempts to obtain official recognition and patronage for the art academy were frustrated, and when the royal academy was finally founded it was reluctant to incorporate the local mas-ters. Even the episodic successes enjoyed by some of the talented painters were always contained within the existing conservative system. The position of censor of religious images granted to Baltasar de Echave Orio, or the title of veedor of the guild and that of alferez of the militia offered to Cristobal de Villalpando are vivid examples that represent this tendency. Unlike in Spain, the painter in New Spain did not have a chance to dramatically rise above the given structure by, for example, being accepted into a prestigious military order. This was due to the absence of a permanent court which had the power to offer prominent painters the title of court artist and to grant them an exceptional position in society. Such unfavorable conditions explain why the painter in New Spain resorted to religious authority to elevate his social status. Without secular patronage, the church almost monopolized commissions and exercised overwhelming power over the art world. Thus it was vital for the painter to appeal to the ecclesiastical patrons. Even when the painters were in pursuit of liberal ideas, they often found themselves involved with religious discourses. In this context, the authoritative image of the Virgin of Guadalupe proved to be an excellent vehicle to convey the painter`s claims to a dignified status in society. The image of God painting the Virgin of Guadalupe was the New Spanish painter`s answer to the social limitations imposed on him. Just as the painting of Saint Luke depicting the Virgin and Child was translated into a unique visual idiom of God painting the Virgin of Guadalupe, the efforts to elevate the social status of the painter in New Spain were adjusted to the specific social environment that conditioned the life of the painter. In short, the distinctive course that the New Spanish painter took, namely the pronounced dependence on religious authority, was an outcome of the unfavorable condition which led to the partial fulfillment of the painter`s original aspirations.