Friday, April 9, 2021

San Luis Potosí. El Santuario del Desierto

In previous posts we looked at some outstanding late colonial buildings in the city of San Luis Potosí. Another area church of interest is the Santuario del Desierto, located to the immediate west of the capital.  

   Originally a small hermitage consecrated to San Juan Bautista, the temple was built in 1635. But it was not until the year 1735, according to inscriptions in the Sanctuary, that the construction of the present building took place—a pilgrimage shrine devoted to the cult of Guadalupe.

The Sanctuary front is simple, its classically framed brownstone facade flanked by two domed bell towers. Shell niches hold statues of noted saints including San Luis Rey, San Miguel Arcángel, & San Nicolás Tolentino, with the Virgin of Guadalupe at the top.
The other exterior item of interest is the atrium cross cut from red sandstone that retains a few eroded reliefs.

The nave and high altar

Set in an otherwise sparsely furnished nave, the handsome 18th century gilded main altarpiece has a broad central pavilion flanked by projecting wings that house statuary as well as paintings depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin.
The Annunciation;                      Nativity of the Virgin
John the Baptist;                 St Anne
Flanked by the statues of Sts Joachim & Anne, the central image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is a rare signed work by the noted Pueblan painter Lorenzo de la Piedra—dated 1625 and like that at Mexquitic (see previous post)  among the earliest art works in the region.
text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and from online sources

see our earlier page on the Temple of Carmen

Friday, April 2, 2021

San Luis Potosí. San Miguel Mexquitic,

Recently our attention was drawn to the conventual church of San Miguel Mexquitic de Carmona in the western part of San Luis Potosi state, NW of the capital.
   Mexquitic was a colonial mining town founded to house workers from Tlaxcala who were imported to work the mines as were others in the region including not too distant Pinos in the state of Zacatecas.
The original Franciscan mission from the 1590s, one of the first in the region, was rebuilt in the 1700s, when the front was redesigned in provincial baroque style. The upper facade contains three sculpture niches which contain statues of the archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel.
San Miguel
San Rafael                       San Gabriel

Like the Pinos churches, San Miguel Mexquitic houses a main retablo very much in the late baroque estípite style, which suggests the possible involvement of the Ureña family and their principal retablista Juan Garcia de Castañeda.
While the gable of the altarpiece appears to be a later addition, the main tier of prominent estipites framing expansive niche-pilasters replete with statuary and figure sculpture bears a strong family resemblance to Ureña/Castañeda retablos throughout the region.
   A flamboyant archangel Michael occupies the broad center niche, while Franciscan saints stand in the flanking niches. 
before restoration
The most interesting feature of this altarpiece, however, is the painting of San Miguel in the upper part (Gable). This is a copy of the original, now housed in the sacristy and recently restored. During restoration, the painting was determined to date from the late 16th or early 17th centuries, possibly brought by the early settlers and likely the oldest  known colonial artwork in the state, possibly once installed in an earlier retablo.
detail of painting as restored

text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
color images © Tanja Mastroiacovo & Niccolo Brooker

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Tlaxcala: The San Antonio Acuamanala altarpiece

 In an earlier post we looked at the extraordinary ornate facade of this baroque church.

In this new post, as part of our ongoing series on Tlaxcalan retablos we describe its equally ornate main altarpiece, also framed in rich late  baroque style.

This imposing gilded retablo animates the nave with its array of canopied, prow like estípite pilasters bristling with jagged angles and encrusted niches filled with statuary.

Patron St. Anthony of Padua occupies the central lower niche while the archangel Michael stands in the niche above. Franciscan saints and other notables occupy the lateral spaces.

A most impressive colonial work of religious art for this relatively minor outpost.

Text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
color image courtesy of Niccolo Brooker

see our posts on other Tlaxcalan retablos: AmaxacTepeyancoZacatelcoSan José de TlaxcalaSanta Cruz de Tlaxcala; Apetatitlan; Tlaxco; Metepec; San Pablo del Monte

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Tlaxcala: The Huamantla altarpieces

We are always surprised at the elaborate and costly altarpieces still found in the churches of this marginal colonial province.
   In our continuing series on these altarpieces, we look at examples in the town of Huamantla in the eastern part of the state.
   The retablos stand in the parish church of San Luis Obispo and the former conventual church of San Francisco, located in a barrio of the pueblo.
San Luis Obispo Huamantla

San Luis Obispo
The nave of the parish church is lined with altars from many periods, most notably several from the late baroque times. 
The gilded main altarpiece dating from the late 1700s is prominently fashioned with extended estipite columns that frame a series of ornate niches containing statuary of Franciscan and other saints including the patron.
Side altars of interest include one in the earlier baroque Solomonic style whose three tiers of painted panels are framed with gilded helical columns.
The third retablo of note is that devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe, designed in an even more ornate manner than the main altarpiece.
San Francisco
This extraordinarily broad and complex retablo fills the east end of the conventual church at the end of a long nave. Replete with multiple tiers and calles, it is fashioned in terminal baroque style. The numerous niches, or interestípites, retain statuary of male and female saints, with a florid Holy Trinity relief at the apex.

text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and from online sources

see our posts on other Tlaxcalan retablos: AmaxacTepeyancoZacatelcoSan José de TlaxcalaSanta Cruz de Tlaxcala; ApetatitlanTlaxcoMetepecSan Pablo del Monte; 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Tlaxcala. El Palacio de Gobierno

Relatively few civic buildings survive from the early colonial period in Mexico. One of the few is the spectacular Government Building ( Palacio de Gobierno) in the city of Tlaxcala, which although much altered over time retains some of its original mudéjar features.

Dating from the mid 1500s, the Palacio main entry boasts a sculpted  doorway, spanned with a convex lobed archway supported on broad triple jambs carved with foliated grotesque style reliefs.

At the far corner of the building, a triple arcade fashioned in the same style with similar foliated reliefs, believed to represent the native Mexican marigold or flor de muerto, spans the upper tier.

text and images © 2021 Richard D. Perry

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Morelos. San Andrés Jumiltepec

For the last in our current series on the Morelos conventos, we take a look at San Andrés Jumiltepec.
San Andres Jumiltepec, west front
Founded in the mid 1500s as a dependency of the Augustinian priory at Ocuituco, the convento at San Andrés Jumiltepec was later rebuilt as a doctrina in its own right.
San Andres Jumiltepec in the 1980s
The layout is unusual in that the open chapel was part of the nave of the church beside the tower. It remains bricked up to this day, and was one of an arcade of three arches along the side of the nave, as this early photograph indicates.
San Andrés Jumiltepec just before the 'quake
The church sustained significant damage during the earthquake of 2017. 
after the 'quake
Although much repair work has since been completed, full restoration  of the bell tower is still under way.
The church today
text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images by the author and courtesy of Robert Jackson

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Morelos. Zacualpan: the Rosary chapel 2.

In the second of our posts on the Rosary Chapel at Zacualpan we feature the finely wrought pulpit.

Probably contemporary with and in similar style to the altarpieces, this handsome pulpit may also the work of the López taller, its panels ornamented with Rococo inspired reliefs in gold and red.

Of special note is the gilded canopy topped with angel heads and the statue of a wingless archangel, probably San Miguel again.

text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker