Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Temple of Carmen, San Luis Potosí: the Ureña portal

The Retablo of the Archangels
In an earlier post (recently updated) we looked at the extraordinary exterior facades of the Temple of Carmen in San Luis Potosí.  
   Now we look at the interior, focusing on the extraordinary stone and stucco "proscenium" portal to the Camarín or Casa Sacratísima de la Familia de los Cinco Señores, located in the south transept of the church.
   Incorporating a doorway and a window, this unique entry is designed in the form of a retablo in the highly ornate, late baroque anástilo mannerDated 1788 it is attributed to Francisco Bruno de Ureña, the prominent scion of a distinguished family of 18th century Mexican designers and architects.
statue of the Archangel Michael (courtesy of Jim Cook)
Although the colorful statues of the seven archangels are popular in style, the uniquely sophisticated design and the complex, layered patterning of the carved surfaces are not.  
   Dubbed "pleated Churrigueresque" by Mexican art historian Manuel Toussaint, this sculpted portal has been described by Joseph H. Baird, the noted authority on late baroque design and ornament in Mexico, in the following phrases:

  " … (an) incredible triumph of the retablo designer, (it) stutters with almost hysterical brilliance...  (the) reduplication of flat surfaces that is dizzying...  the logical extension of firm structural order into the delirium of late baroque rhythmic repetition and rococo glitter..."

text © 2015 Richard D. Perry.  images courtesy of Jim Cook

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