Friday, January 25, 2019

Hidden Gems. San Luis Tehuiloyucan: four evangelists and two crosses

From time to time we take a look at modest Mexican churches with colonial antecedents that are overlooked by most students of viceregal art and architecture, but that often possess features of special historic and artistic interest. We like to call them Hidden Gems.*
Tehuiloyucan is a suburb of San Andrés Cholula in the state of Puebla, best known for its odd colonial “House of the Devil,”
   Our focus here however is on the 
handsome parish church of San Luis de Obispo, notable for its expansive, colorful front of elegant domes and towers, framed by a large atrium with an elaborate, triple arched gateway.
San Luis Tehuiloyucan, the triple gateway
The Statuary
Although the church interior was remodeled in a glitzy neoclassical style, a fine set of older statues of the Four Evangelists, mounted on two side altars, survives from earlier colonial times.

side altar with older statuary
The four—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—are seated on wooden thrones, each with an identifying inscription and their appropriate symbol from the Tetramorph, and holding his gospel. 
   Although somewhat worn, they are in good enough condition so that we can appreciate their expressive sculptural values and fine   polychrome and estofado finish.
St. Matthew with his man/cherub                                 St. Mark with his lion

St Luke, missing the bull                                     St John with the eagle
Possibly survivors from an earlier baroque altarpiece now lost, these statues are the sole colonial art works now remaining in the church.

The atrium cross
The Crosses
Two other colonial items of interest in Tehuiloyucan are its carved stone crosses. 
   Hewn from black basalt, the atrium cross is now raised in an arcaded kiosk in front of the gateway. the striking rectangular cross is carved on the front with bas reliefs of classic Passion symbols, regularly spaced between the raised borders and currently crudely outlined in white paint. 
   A Face of Christ covers the axis, lightly portrayed with modest side locks and a crowned brow below a fan of three Nails. The recessed eyes may once have held inlays. Instruments like a Hammer, Pincers, Lantern, Jug an, unusually, a pair of Tunics are evenly laid out along the arms.
   One unusual relief is a cowled or helmeted figure on the shaft with raised arms, flared skirt and embroidered costume, perhaps an archangel.

A second, smaller, basalt cross in the same style occupies a similar location on the main town plaza.
Check out our other Hidden Gems: Xichu de IndiosSan Felipe Sultepec; San Pablo Malacatepec;  OcoxochitepecMixquiahualaCherán;
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry
color images by Diana Roberts and ELTB

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