Friday, December 13, 2019

Mexican Altarpieces. Dolores Xaltocan: the Passion altarpiece.

Behind the unexceptional facade of this 17th century church in the Xochimilco region of Mexico City rests a late colonial altarpiece of special artistic interest. 

The retablo of the Passion is notable for its suite of large paintings illustrating the Passion of Christ. Although the author is not securely documented, it is thought that they may be from the workshop of the prolific baroque artist José de Páez, whose work we saw in Oaxaca
   The focus of this post is on the graphic source of the works—all adapted from the popular pictorial book Imágenes de la historia evangélica by the Spanish converso and Jesuit Jerónimo Nadal, published in the closing years of the 16th century and illustrated with woodcuts by the well known Flemish engravers, the Wierix brothers.

Below we display some of the panels alongside their print sources:
The Agony in the Garden
The Taking of Jesus - Betrayal of Judas

Jesus before Caiaphas

The Flagelation

Crown of Thorns

The Way of the Cross

The Descent from the Cross

Dating from the mid-1700s the altarpiece stands on the side of the nave. Eight of the nine canvases, which extend from the predella to the arching top tier, document traditional scenes, from the Agony in the Garden to the Descent from the Cross itself.
See our earlier posts on Mexican altarpieces of note:
text © 2019 Richard D. Perry
images from online sources and adapted from Alena Robin (2006)

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