Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Temple of Carmen, San Luis Potosí: The Camarin of the Virgin of Carmen

portal of the Archangels (detail) with view of camarín  (image © Carolyn Brown)
Previously we looked at the fantastical stucco portal of the Archangels inside the church of El Carmen.  As we noted, this structure serves as the entry to the Sagrario chapel or camarín of the revered image of Our Lady of Mt Carmel.
   In this final post we look inside this sumptuously ornate side chapel, to focus on the main altarpiece housing her image.
 Designed, like the entry, in the highly ornate anástilo style of the late baroque, this dynamic gilded retablo fills the apse of the chapel. Lateral wings flare forward from the center pavilion, drawing one's gaze in to the focal image of the Virgin of Carmen.  
   Giant estípite columns elegantly anchor both wings, whose shallow niche-pilasters, framed by much rococo ornament, display statues of saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Virgin.
Layered pilasters inlaid with carved foliage project the center pavilion forward. In the vitrine, the Virgin cradles the crowned Jesus in one arm and in the other holds a brown scapular emblazoned with the Carmelite insignia—a form of devotional apparel special to the Order. 
   Together with the rosary, the scapular was popularly associated with indulgences and salvation which accounted for much of its appeal in colonial Mexico.
An enormous, protruding shell canopy caps the entire altarpiece, again directing attention in and downward to the central image.

text © 2015 Richard D. Perry.  images courtesy of Jim Cook, except where noted.

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