Thursday, November 26, 2020

Morelos: Tlayacapan update

In previous posts we have documented the earthquake damage sustained by the great Augustinian priory of Tlayacapan and its various chapels.
Facade before quake;                                 Facade cracked after quake.
The Priory church itself suffered significant effects to the roof and the facade, including large cracks and damage to its crowning belfry. 
The damaged facade and belfry after the quake
In 2020 work remains in progress for its repair and restoration, as this  recent picture from aficionado Robert Jackson shows:
Earthquake damage to the venerable municipal building, or tecpan, was also extensive and work is under way for its stabilizing and restoration.

text © 2020 Richard D. Perry
images © the author, and Robert Jackson with thanks

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Morelos. San Agustín Jonacatepec

We continue our updates on Morelos with a visit to the early Augustinian priory church and convento of Jonacatepec.
In the year 1558, the temple and convento of the town of Jonacatepec, "Onion Hill," were founded by Augustinians Fray Jerónimo de San Esteban and Fr Jorge de Avila, who are buried under the altar of the church. The main feature of the complex is its vast atrium, the largest in Morelos. 
The convento as it stands was built in the 1560s and displays distinctive features. First, it is fronted by an arcaded porteria still blocked by later masonry. The larger center archway of the triple arcade formerly gave access to an open chapel, now subsumed into an enclosed side chapel.
The two story cloister of this convent is well-preserved, if a little battered, even to the survival of some inscribed medallions installed below the roof lines in Augustinian fashion. Again, the triple arcades on each side are braced by elongated prow buttresses that boldly extend through both levels almost to the roofline.
No early murals survive.
The present priory church of San Agustín is much later and dates from the 1700s. Its rustic retablo style facade is of note mainly for its sculpted relief of the patron St Augustine in the gable niche.
Most of the church furnishings were replaced by neoclassical altars, with the exception of this retablo in late baroque style possibly attributable to noted regional sculptor/designer Higinio Lopez.
chapel font
church baptistry font 
However, two early monolithic stone baptismal fonts remain, one in the church and the other in former open chapel.
San Agustín Jonacatepec in 2020
The church sustained fairly minimal damage to its domes and belfry during the 2017 earthquake, which is being currently addressed.
text ©2020 Richard D. Perry
color images by the author, eltb and courtesy of Robert Jackson.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Morelos: The Oaxtepec altarpieces

In earlier posts we described the fine retablos at Pazulco and Tlacotepec in the state of Morelos. We continue this series with a look at the transept altarpieces of Santo Domingo Oaxtepec, the first Dominican mission to be established in the area, in 1545.
Although the church itself dates from the 1500s, and is especially notable for its Gothic inspired vaulted nave, the two surviving  transept altarpieces are much later, dating from the 18th century. 
Both are fashioned in the gilded Churrigueresque or barroco estípite style of the later 1700s.
The retablo in the left transept is the bolder of the two, its sculpted, curtained niches framed by prominent estípite columns. Although undocumented, its style recalls the work of regional native designer/sculptor Higinio López.
Although much of the original statuary is missing, two figures survive in the upper tier and a fine God the Father projects from the curved gable.
The second retablo, dedicated to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, is more subtle, with more discreet pilasters and gilded arabesque ornament. The sole original statue is that of a worn Archangel Michael in the gable niche.

text © 2020 Richard D. Perry
color images © Niccolo Brooker and ELTB, with acknowledgment

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Aguascalientes. San Blas de Pabellón

Although the smallest Mexican state, Aguascalientes boasts several outstanding colonial monuments, some of which we have featured in previous posts*
In this post we go to the community of Pabellón de Hidalgo, north of the state capital, to visit the parish church of San Blas.
The present church was completed in 1782, and presents a late baroque front with ornate sculpture niches, a mixtilinear gable and a single two tier tower encrusted with complex half columns and layered pilasters. 
A statue of the patron St Blaise, an early Christian Armenian saint, occupies the uppermost niche. A sequence of arched buttresses brace the north wall of the nave.
statue of San Blas                                 tower 
The recently restored interior presents an ornate late baroque main altarpiece, also dating from 1782, fashioned in a layered style reminiscent of the tower and densely carved with foliated relief.
In the center is a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, reputedly painted by the eminent baroque artist José de Páez, flanked by statues of archangels. St. Blaise appears again in the upper niche, flanked by the figure of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
photos by Francisco Kochen
A second painting, along the nave, also by José de Páez, whose work we saw in Oaxaca, depicts an Animas scene including the figures of St Francis and St. Nicholas of Tolentino in the starry robe with his plate of quails. Francis reaches down to a half naked figure in Purgatory believed to be a portrait of the artist.

text © 2020 Richard D. Perry.  
color images © ELTB except where noted