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Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Jalisco Retablos: El Cabezón

As we saw in our earlier post, Jalisco is notable for its numerous large haciendas, many of which date back to colonial times. Originally dedicated to cattle ranching and agriculture, some of these estates were expanded in the 1800s for the production of sugar or tequila, the alcoholic spirit uniquely associated with this region.
El Cabezón chapel (Edward Fesler)
Hacienda El Cabezón

One of the largest of these is the venerable hacienda of El Cabezón, located near the town of Ameca, some 50 kms west of Guadalajara. In 1765, El Cabezón, so named for Don Pedro de Cabezón who acquired the property as early as 1572, was bought by Don Calixto de Cañedo, whose family then occupied the hacienda for more than 150 years, adding sugar and alcohol to its many other products.
After acquiring the estate, the Cañedo family commissioned the design and construction of a new chapel, primarily to house an image of the Virgin of Purification, also known as La Candelaria, the patron saint of the family. The wooden figure of the Virgin is reputed to date from the 16th century and is the venerated object of pilgrimage from other communities in the area.
The Altarpiece of La Candelaria 
The chapel is chiefly notable for its rich interior and especially its superb late 18th century altarpiece - one of the few to survive intact in Jalisco.
Although its designer is not fully documented, it is known that the gilder and retablista Domingo Casillas, who also worked on the similar altarpieces of the Aranzazú chapel in Guadalajara, was closely involved in its fabrication. The gilded altarpiece is designed in the ornate, late baroque style popularly known as the Churrigueresque, after the Spanish family of retablo designers, 
The retablo features a broad, bescrolled central section flanked by giant, highly decorative estípite pilasters. The lavishly dressed and ornamented figure of La Candelaria stands in the center vitrine, surmounted by an elaborate crown and encircling silver halo.  She is also accompanied by a tower, a heraldic emblem of the Cañedo family. 
  
Below her, a gilded tabernacle at the base is adorned with polychrome relief of the Good Shepherd, while above, stands a life size polychrome statue of St Joseph with the Christ Child and flowery staff.  
 
 Lions and pelicans are carved at the base of each pilaster, with polychrome reliefs of the Four Evangelists flanking the statues above.
Niches between the pilasters house statues of seven, beautifully sculpted and painted winged archangels dating from the 1860s. Recently restored and reinstalled, they include San Miguel at the top, beneath a bust of El Padre Eterno, flanked by San Gabriel and San Rafael.

Text © 2006 & 2013 by Richard D. Perry. 
Based in part on the work of Verónica Hernández Díaz (UNAM) 
Photographic images courtesy of Jim Cook except where noted. 
All rights reserved



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