Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Tiled Churches of Puebla: El Carmen

Nuestra Señora del Carmen
(16 de Septiembre 1500)
Founded as a modest barrio chapel or ermita in the 1500s, the building was taken over and greatly expanded into a conventual complex by the Reformed Order of Discalced Carmelites in the 17th century.  Although refurbished in recent times, the structures and some of the tile and stucco work dates from that period.
The renovated western gateway features a wide variety of colored tile, set in traditional zigzag or petatillo style. A charming eared panel in the gable, surrounded by painted stucco angels, portrays the Virgin of Carmen and may predate the gateway itself. 
The inner side of the gateway is also faced with red ladrillos emblazoned with the Carmelite insignia incorporating three stars and the cross of Mt Carmel.
El Carmen gateway, inner face
Several buildings face the inner courtyard or atrium. The arcaded former convento, visible from the gateway at the far end, was made over in the 1900s and is the most exuberant of the Pueblan tiled facades, faced in diamante and wavy herringbone patterns in a variety of shades. 
El Carmen: the convento front
Here, the Carmelite insignia reappear, enclosed in an elaborate, star-like Moorish border, while in the ornate gable above, a stone statue of the Virgin rests in a shell niche framed by decorative carved and painted stucco figures and motifs in popular style.
El Carmen: the church facade
The church entry beside the convento presents a classic poblano facade of sober, gray quarry stone offset by passages of multicolored tile work.  The Carmelite coats of arms appear once again, here in bold sculpted relief, on either side of the choir window.  
Two other items of note on this facade are the stylized, tiled portrait of the Virgin of Carmen above the doorway, and a stone cross carved with the Arma Christi atop the left buttress.
El Carmen: chapel of Santa Teresa
The polygonal structure nearest the gateway is the chapel dedicated to Santa Teresa, the founder of the Order—a later addition to the church but similarly framed with a dark, neo moorish entry and contrasting panels of zigzag ladrillo tiles.

text ©2013 by Richard D. Perry. All rights reserved
Photography by the author and courtesy of Mary Ann Sullivan and Niccolò Brooker.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Tiled Churches of Puebla: La Luz

Nuestra Señora de la Luz  
(Calle 2 / Oriente 1400)
Located south of the colonial city limits in the formerly indigenous barrio of Analco, near San Francisco, the church is located on the old Camino Real, which at one time divided two ethnically distinct communities. Founded in 1761, allegedly to separate but also to reconcile contentious inhabitants in order to keep the peace along this important trade route into the city, it was only completed at the end of the colonial era, in 1818.
As with other churches in this group, the broad front features a center façade sculpted from the dark local stone. This baroque composition is flanked by expanses of diaperwork in contrasting red ladrillo and glazed blue azulejo tiles.  The richness and variety of the decorative tile in this workaday barrio may be explained by the fact that in colonial times this was a favored potters district.
La Luz: left front
The tiled tower fronts are inset with four large polychrome panels with decorative blue frames. These portray the Virgin of Light and, as at San Marcos, St Joseph and her parents Joachim and Anne, all wearing windblown robes in the baroque fashion and richly colored in blue, green and yellow talavera tile. 
La Luz: right front
The Virgin of Light is posed with her traditional attributes: crowned, girdled with jewels and holding the child Jesus. On her left an angel kneels to present a basket of flaming hearts, and on her right the Virgin saves a youthful sinner from the fearsome jaws of Hell.  An inscription reads: La Madre S(antissi)ma de la Luz.  St. Joseph on the opposite tower strikes a similar pose, and is curiously captioned S (Señor) San Joseph de la Luz.  Sts. Joachim and Anne occupy the upper panels.

Between the windows of the inner pavilion tiled panels depict attributes of the Virgin in folkloric style. The Latin inscription on the towers below the belfries is from the Trisagion prayer:  Sanctus Deus, Sanctus fortis, Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis.  (Holy God! Holy Strong One! Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us.)
The dome is also tiled in checkerboard and zig zag blue tile, with colored ribs and yellow starbursts

text © 2013 Richard D. Perry. Photography by the author and courtesy of Mary Ann Sullivan

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Tiled Churches of Puebla: San Antonio de Padua

© Niccolo Brooker
(Plazuela de los martires de Tacubaya)
Founded in 1586 on the northern outskirts of the city, this substantial chapel and adjacent hospice/convento were completed in the early 1600s by the dieguiños, members of the barefoot Franciscan order of San Diego. 
©Luis Arturo Saavedra
The present façade however dates from the 18th century, by which time the dedication of the church had changed from St. Barbara to St. Anthony of Padua.  
   Although more rustic in feeling and execution than the larger tiled city churches, the cliff like brick and tile front is unevenly but inventively patterned in woven petatillo style with blue and white floral azulejos set on point. 
© Niccolo Brooker
Three ornamental talavera panels depicting St. Francis, St. Anthony of Padua and in the gable, La Purísima are contained by rococo flourishes and outlined in whimsical, moorish style, outer frames.  
© Niccolo Brooker
The exquisite relief above the doorway is unexpectedly carved from translucent tecali, or Mexican alabaster, and portrays St. Barbara, the original patron of the church, with her traditional attributes of tower, monstrance and martyr's crown and palm. Her sandaled feet and the nearby cactus add an authentic Mexican touch.
© Niccolo Brooker
©Luis Arturo Saavedra
   A handsome tiled baptistry and fountain rests inside the church, inset with the Franciscan arms.
©Luis Arturo Saavedra
The church and convento stand inside a spacious precinct with tiled walls, gateway and niches and an intimate cloister and fountain. 
©Luis Arturo Saavedra
Dormition? of the Virgin  ©Luis Arturo Saavedra
Marriage of Joseph and Mary (©Luis Arturo Saavedra)
Inside a spacious domed sacristy hang a series of paintings on the life of the Virgin by the baroque poblano artist José Rodríguez Carnero:
text © 2013 Richard Perry.  
Photography courtesy of Niccolò Brooker & Luis Arturo Saavedra

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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Tiled Churches of Puebla: San Marcos

San Marcos Evangelista 
(Reforma 700)
Founded as a modest chapel in this famous Pueblan potters’ barrio, west of the zócalo, the church was greatly enlarged in the latter 1600s and dedicated to St. Mark, patron saint of the local cofradia whose annual procession in his honor was legendary.  

The tall church front, refaced again in 1797, is capped by a handsome scrolled gable and faced with red, lozenge shaped  ladrillo tile set against traditional blue petaled azulejos in an intriguing diamante pattern.

Nine narrative panels of richly hued Talavera tile in foliated blue frames adorn the façade. 
On either side of the spartan stone porch, are portrayed the robed figures of St. Joseph and the Virgin of La Purísima in blue, green, and gold—both perched on globes. 
Above them stand St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of the Virgin, also clad in swirling rococo draperies.
Two of the Four Evangelists flank the choir window, notably the patron St Mark with his lion on the left. 
The Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel occupy the upper facade with St. Michael in the large frame at the top. The entire façade is outlined by alternating plain blue and white tiles.

The Archangel Michael 
San Gabriel;                   San Rafael

text © 2013 Richard D. Perry. 
Photography by the author, and courtesy of Niccolò Brooker

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Tiled Churches of Puebla: N. S. de Guadalupe

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe 
(Reforma 1100)
In 1754, when he first heard of the Apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico, Pope Benedict XIV fell to his knees and, quoting a passage from Psalm 147, exclaimed these words: Non Fecit Taliter Omni Nationi,  translated as: "He (God) hath not done this for any other nation."  Shown a reproduction of the miraculous image on Juan Diego's tilma, he issued the Bull proclaiming Our Lady of Guadalupe as Patroness of Mexico. This led to the building or rededication of churches across Mexico to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Among the most colorful of these is the church of Guadalupe in the city of Puebla, located north of the old city grid. Faced with contrasting tile in characteristic barroco poblano style, it boasts one of the most accomplished and intricately patterned facades in the city.

The sober baroque porch of gray stone and the plain upper openings are framed by a grand archway outlined in yellow and blue tile and filled with dazzling zigzags of multicolored tile inset with ornate tiled floral panels.

Note the multicolored angels floating in the spandrels above the arch.

On either side of the archway, set against a backdrop of dark red ladrillo brick interspersed with blue azulejos, four large narrative panels, composed of glazed talavera tile in blue, green and yellow, illustrate the Four Apparitions in a direct folkloric style, each with sections of the Latin text: Non Fecit Taliter Omni Nationi


Other panels placed across the church front display well known symbols of the Virgin, such as the sun, moon, and roses.

The multi hued facade is complemented by a pair of tiered, whitewashed towers sculpted in ornate, popular baroque style and encrusted with woven and spiral columns.

The church is covered by a handsome dome faced in a similar style.  


text © 2013 Richard D. Perry. Photography courtesy of Mary Ann Sullivan

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