Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Jalisco Retablos: Amacueca


Retablo of El Dulce Nombre de Jesus

Another Jalisco gilded altarpiece in the 18th century style of those at El Cabezón and the Aranzazú chapel, survives in the Franciscan church of Amacueca, south of Guadalajara.

photograph courtesy of Niccolo Brooker
Although similar to the other two—it has been attributed to the same designers and workshop— it is earlier in date.  In fact, it is documented as having suffered serious damage in the earthquake of 1749, at which time the center section of the retablo and its surmounting gable were damaged and subsequently lost (the present center being a fairly recent replacement.

The lateral parts of the retablo—its richly carved tiers of estipite columns and exuberantly scrolled niche-pilasters—are original and remarkably advanced for its presumed early date, predating the El Cabezón retablo for which it may have been the model.

In 2008, work began on conservation of the altarpiece which has been restored to its pristine luster of red and gold. (see details)

While much of the statuary awaits full restoration and final placement, figures of Franciscan saints traditionally occupied the lower tiers of the interestipites while figures of archangels looked inward from the upper niches.

Original blue robed busts of the Evangelists and other saints peer out from the estípites themselves.

St Francis and St Clare (courtesy Jim Cook)

Update: the restored figures of Franciscan saints have been reinstalled in the altarpiece, notably those of St Francis and St Clare.

text & drawing © Richard D Perry
photography by Niccolò Brooker, Jim Cook & Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca

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