Thursday, June 15, 2017

Totimehuacan 3: the paintings

For our third and final post on Totimehuacan, we look at two other outstanding colonial artworks that stand in the nave of the parish church of San Francisco.
   These are large, complex paintings of high quality: a monumental Last Judgment, and a crowded canvas depicting Purgatory (Las Animas).

The Last Judgment
This extraordinary composition, dating from the late 1600s, is by the Andalusian painter Antonio de Santander, patriarch of a leading family of Pueblan artists.
By customary tradition, Christ sits in judgment atop a globe, flanked in this case by the Virgin Mary, John the Evangelist and assembled saints and ranks of the Elect.  St. Francis as standard bearer clutches the cross, accompanied by angels holding the Instruments of the Passion. 
St Michael flanked by angel and devil
Below, to one side of St. Michael portrayed with his fiery sword, the saved ascend to gate of Heaven, while the condemned look down in despair towards the mouth of Hell and its demons below.
   An interesting touch is the angel and devil posed on either side of the archangel, holding open books with contrasting Latin inscriptions, respectively: "I was the Father, the eye of the Poor." and "We oppress the Poor." 
The Thomassin engraving of the Last Judgment (1606)
 The composition is loosely based on a widely sourced print by the French engraver Philippe Thomassin.

Las Animas (aka The Communion of Saints)
In this crowded second canvas, a vigorous Archangel Michael is again the focus, dominating the lower tier. Beside him, St. Dominic and St. Francis reach down to the struggling souls in Purgatory. 
   Founders of the other religious Orders line up behind St. Michael, while a company of prominent saints, apostles and martyrs of the Church fill the celestial tier above. The Trinity occupies the top level accompanied by the Holy Family and the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament, while angelic musicians play below the dove of the Holy Spirit.
   Possibly commissioned as a more inclusive companion piece to the Last Judgment and although unsigned,? it is likely also the work of Antonio de Santander or members of his family workshop.
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry.  
images by PESSCA and adapted from published material by Jaime Morera.
Please review our other posts on Last Judgment depictions in Mexico, at: SuchixtlahuacaXoxotecoEl Llanito; Yanhuitlan.   upcoming:  Jarácuaro;  Zirimícuaro; 

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