Saturday, May 29, 2021

Chihuahua. San Nicolás de La Hoya

As an addendum to our previous post on Santa Ana de la Joya, we look briefly at its ruined companion church of San Nicolás. Now abandoned and virtually roofless save for few remnant roof beams, this adobe church is slowly crumbling back into the dirt from which it was fashioned.
It was once a building of some substance with massive nave walls enclosing a narrow nave. The cracked rectangular front incorporates a large bell tower.
apse from choir loft
choir from apse © Niccolo Brooker
choir loft ©
Niccolo Brooker

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Chihuahua. Santa Ana de la Joya

The third in our survey of Chihuahua churches with painted ceilings is the modest church of Santa Ana de la Joya, near Satevó.

Like the other churches in this group, behind its simple stepped front Santa Ana boasts a long single nave with a raised choir and sanctuary arch.

Behind the modest church front, the entire nave is roofed by a wooden beamed ceiling, mostly of more recent construction. 

The exception is the older under choir, divided into sections with painted beams and on the intervening planks floral motifs and ribbon like scrolls.


text © 2021 Richard D. Perry

color images © Niccolo Brooker by gracious permission

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Chihuahua. Cusihuiriachi

For the next in our series on the churches of Chihuahua with painted ceilings, we go to Santa Rosa de Lima Cusihuiriachi.

In 1687, a major silver strike was found at Cusihuiriachi. Quickly the Real de Santa Rosa de Cusihuiriachi became one of the most important mines in the northwest of the state of Chihuahua, the locale attracting many Spaniards and Creoles.

Although  the community is now largely abandoned, the temple of Santa Rosa de Lima survives as testimony to the former wealth of Cusihuiriachi, its long single nave roofed like others in the area by wooden beamed ceilings.

the nave-        choir end,                              east end

The highlight of the church interor is its gilded late baroque altarpiece which frames 10 paintings illustrating the life of Santa Rosa de Lima some signed by the noted Basque artist José de Alcibar.

The other item of special note is the remnant painted section of ceiling above the altarpiece, one of a handful of similar surviving works in the area, notably at Santa Maria de Cuevas.
text © 2021 Richard D. Perry

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Chihuahua. Santa Maria de Cuevas.

In the coming weeks we look at colonial structures of interest from border states at either end of Mexico: Chihuahua in the north and Chiapas in the south.
   We start with posts on Chihuahua, focusing on a group of churches with painted wooden ceilings, a feature rare in Mexico outside western Michoacán.
First we consider the church of Santa Maria de Cuevas, a late Jesuit foundation in the Tarahumara region of Mexico.
The church dates from c. 1700 by an inscription. The rectangular front is distinguished by its singular Mannerist/baroque entry, emblazoned with the crowned monogram of Mary below the choir window. 
The plan consists of a long single nave with an octagonal apse.
whose signature feature is its painted beamed wooden ceilings, along the entire nave and over the underchoir as well as murals above the sanctuary arch and baptistry.
   The nave walls were also painted at one time, but are now largely whitewashed.

ceiling detail
The Nave
The eight painted divisions spanning the nave between the beams employ centrally placed Marian symbols set in diamond shaped frames or floating amid repetitive floral motifs; these include the sun, moon, star, a mirror, a fountain, a cypress tree, a lily and a rose.
A colorful frieze runs along the nave beneath the ceiling in which marian and Christic symbols are entwined in vines together with flowers, angels’ heads and songbirds.

The Sanctuary arch
On either side of the sanctuary arch angels uphold banners with Latin inscriptions that together, read “ all future generations will call me blessed” .
The Baptistry arch
Here two archangels gesture to a Christic monogram with an inscription referring to a Jesuit missionary.
The Choir.
Although in poor condition, the ceiling above the choir is decorated in similar fashion to the nave, with floral motifs but without obvious Marian symbolism.
Another art work of interest at Santa Maria de Cuevas is a painting by the noted Mexican artist Juan Correa, currently hung in the sacristy, illustrating a baptism scene with the Jesuit saint Francis Xavier.
Four Other churches.
Four other Jesuit churches in the region also show painted ceilings, mostly partial but in a similar vein, using distinctive native color sources.  We shall look at these in subsequent posts.

text © 2021 Richard D. Perry, with acknowledgment to Clara Bargellini
all color images © Niccolo Brooker except where noted.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Puebla. San Diego Huejotzingo:The Mystic Vintage

In this post we return to central Puebla and the parish church of San Diego HuejotzingoIn a previous post we described a pair of side retablos there, that we speculate may have originally been located in the nearby storied church of the Franciscan convento of San Miguel Huejotzingo.
The Mystic Vintage print by Wierix
Here we consider another work of art there, a large painting of the Mystic Vintage, an image based on the eponymous popular print by the Flemish artist Hieronymous Wierix. In this case the composition is reversed with God the Father operating the wine press on the left, and Christ on the cross facing right.

The other major difference from the original print is the inclusion of the Archangel Michael—the patron of the church of San Miguel which strongly suggests the original placement of the painting there.
   Another addition is the presence of a Franciscan and Dominican friar on either side of the composition, the Franciscan possibly intended to be San Diego de Alcalá, the patron of the parish church.
See our previous post on this theme.
text © 2021 Richard D. Perry
color photo courtesy of Niccolo Brooker.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Puebla. Tlacomulco Ixtacamaxtitlan

We cannot leave Ixtacamaxtitlan without a mention of its most unusual monument, the chapel of Tlacomulco, perched on a high local peak. 

Founded in the 16th century atop a prehispanic hilltop shrine, and also dedicated to St. Francis, the little church has been altered over the centuries, with the addition of domes and a new facade.

text  © 2021 Richard D. Perry
images from online sources.