Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Tlaxcala: The San Antonio Acuamanala altarpiece

 In an earlier post we looked at the extraordinary ornate facade of this baroque church.

In this new post, as part of our ongoing series on Tlaxcalan retablos we describe its equally ornate main altarpiece, also framed in rich late  baroque style.

This imposing gilded retablo animates the nave with its array of canopied, prow like estípite pilasters bristling with jagged angles and encrusted niches filled with statuary.

Patron St. Anthony of Padua occupies the central lower niche while the archangel Michael stands in the niche above. Franciscan saints and other notables occupy the lateral spaces.

A most impressive colonial work of religious art for this relatively minor outpost.

Text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
color image courtesy of Niccolo Brooker

see our posts on other Tlaxcalan retablos: AmaxacTepeyancoZacatelcoSan José de TlaxcalaSanta Cruz de Tlaxcala; Apetatitlan; Tlaxco; Metepec; San Pablo del Monte

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Tlaxcala: The Huamantla altarpieces

We are always surprised at the elaborate and costly altarpieces still found in the churches of this marginal colonial province.
   In our continuing series on these altarpieces, we look at examples in the town of Huamantla in the eastern part of the state.
   The retablos stand in the parish church of San Luis Obispo and the former conventual church of San Francisco, located in a barrio of the pueblo.
San Luis Obispo Huamantla

San Luis Obispo
The nave of the parish church is lined with altars from many periods, most notably several from the late baroque times. 
The gilded main altarpiece dating from the late 1700s is prominently fashioned with extended estipite columns that frame a series of ornate niches containing statuary of Franciscan and other saints including the patron.
Side altars of interest include one in the earlier baroque Solomonic style whose three tiers of painted panels are framed with gilded helical columns.
The third retablo of note is that devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe, designed in an even more ornate manner than the main altarpiece.
San Francisco
This extraordinarily broad and complex retablo fills the east end of the conventual church at the end of a long nave. Replete with multiple tiers and calles, it is fashioned in terminal baroque style. The numerous niches, or interestípites, retain statuary of male and female saints, with a florid Holy Trinity relief at the apex.

text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and from online sources

see our posts on other Tlaxcalan retablos: AmaxacTepeyancoZacatelcoSan José de TlaxcalaSanta Cruz de Tlaxcala; ApetatitlanTlaxcoMetepecSan Pablo del Monte; 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Tlaxcala. El Palacio de Gobierno

Relatively few civic buildings survive from the early colonial period in Mexico. One of the few is the spectacular Government Building ( Palacio de Gobierno) in the city of Tlaxcala, which although much altered over time retains some of its original mudéjar features.

Dating from the mid 1500s, the Palacio main entry boasts a sculpted  doorway, spanned with a convex lobed archway supported on broad triple jambs carved with foliated grotesque style reliefs.

At the far corner of the building, a triple arcade fashioned in the same style with similar foliated reliefs, believed to represent the native Mexican marigold or flor de muerto, spans the upper tier.

text and images © 2021 Richard D. Perry

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Morelos. San Andrés Jumiltepec

For the last in our current series on the Morelos conventos, we take a look at San Andrés Jumiltepec.
San Andres Jumiltepec, west front
Founded in the mid 1500s as a dependency of the Augustinian priory at Ocuituco, the convento at San Andrés Jumiltepec was later rebuilt as a doctrina in its own right.
San Andres Jumiltepec in the 1980s
The layout is unusual in that the open chapel was part of the nave of the church beside the tower. It remains bricked up to this day, and was one of an arcade of three arches along the side of the nave, as this early photograph indicates.
San Andrés Jumiltepec just before the 'quake
The church sustained significant damage during the earthquake of 2017. 
after the 'quake
Although much repair work has since been completed, full restoration  of the bell tower is still under way.
The church today
text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images by the author and courtesy of Robert Jackson

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Morelos. Zacualpan: the Rosary chapel 2.

In the second of our posts on the Rosary Chapel at Zacualpan we feature the finely wrought pulpit.

Probably contemporary with and in similar style to the altarpieces, this handsome pulpit may also the work of the López taller, its panels ornamented with Rococo inspired reliefs in gold and red.

Of special note is the gilded canopy topped with angel heads and the statue of a wingless archangel, probably San Miguel again.

text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker

Monday, March 8, 2021

Michoacan. Disaster at Nurio

We are very sad to report that a fire destroyed the church of Santiago Nurio on Sunday March 7, 2021.


Reports indicate that all the interior furnishings were burned including the exquisite painted underchoir and adjacent wooden baptistry, as well as the nave retablos.

Monday Morning

The only good news is that the adjacent Guatapera chapel, also with a priceless painted ceiling, was spared the holocaust.

Nevertheless, a tragic loss for Mexico and us all.  See our previous post on Nurio:

Richard Perry

Friday, March 5, 2021

Morelos. Zacualpan: the Rosary chapel 1.

In previous visits here we have looked at the murals and carved baptismal font in the church and convento of Zacualpan de Amilpas.

Here we consider the  Rosary Chapel at Zacualpan and its altarpieces. This centrally planned 18th century chapel attached to the north side of the church is unusual for its oval forms and baroque detailing.
Its principal feature apart from the tiled cupola—badly cracked in the 2017 earthquake— is its pair of gilded altarpieces. 
Fashioned in the ornate anástilo manner of the terminal baroque, both may be at least in part the work of the noted local retablista and carver, Higinio de López, The Master of Zacualpan, and his workshop, whose work we have cited elsewhere in the region.
In the first retablo, aside from the modern image of the Virgin of the Rosary in the central vitrine, the other shallow niches are occupied by the original figures: statues of the seven princes or archangels, notably San Miguel in the top niche
; each is set on projecting pedestals and clad in rich estofado draperies. San Miguel is flanked by two figures of the Holy Trinity—the Holy Spirit is missing.
The second retablo, opposite, is fashioned in similar style and also profusely gilded, devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe, with the Virgin again in the center vitrine, surrounded instead of statuary by brilliant paintings of the four Apparitions. 
text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and
Martha Fernandez