Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Puebla. La Concordia 1

Continuing our review of colonial buildings of distinction in the city of Puebla, we turn to the architectural complex of La Concordia. The review is divided into two posts.
   “La Concordia” as it is known, is made up of the church, the priestly house: the Casa de Ejercicios, and an annex known as the “Patio de los Azulejos” — which we cover in our second post. 
   The complex began life in the mid 1500s with the founding of a charity hospital run by the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross (Santa Cruz) to serve the indigenous residents of the area.
   A century later the old hospital, its temple and precincts were transferred to the Oratorian Order, founded by San Felipe Neri.
A new church was built to a design by local architect Carlos Garcia Durango, (also responsible for the city church of San Cristóbal.) Erected during the 1670s, the church is built from dark gray basalt, fashioned in soberly classical poblano style.  
   The facade of the church is topped by a cross that recalls its original dedication to Santa Cruz. 
   In front of the choir window is the image of Saint Philip Neri on which a dove was placed, symbol of the Holy Spirit. Under the window you can read the words “PARADISE, PARADISE, I WANT”, words allegedly uttered by the founder shortly before his death.
Above rests the alabaster statue of Our Lady of Vallicela, the rarely portrayed patron of the first church in Rome belonging to the Congregation of the Oratory, founded in 1575 by Saint Philip Neri. 
Another statue of the saint stands in a niche of the neoclassical side entry.
   The interior of the church houses neoclassical altars and a set of viceregal paintings by noted poblano artist Miguel Jerónimo Zendejas, illustrating passages from the life of San Felipe Neri.
text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and from online sources.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Puebla. San Cristóbal 3.

The former hospital of the Niños Expositos (abandoned orphans) adjacent to the church of San Cristóbal, is now a school, faced in red ladrillo brick set in a zigzag formation and interposed with colored azulejo tile 
in classic Pueblan style
In a niche above the main entrance rests an archaic stone statue of the patron St. Christopher bearing the Christ Child.
A coat of arms on the outer wall displays the papal triple tiara and crossed keys.
text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker

Friday, April 1, 2022

Puebla. San Cristobal 2.

For our second post on the church of San Cristóbal we consider the church interior.
   The interior of this temple preserves its rich stucco ornament, being among the first in the City of Puebla to use this material. The vaults above the nave are alive with intertwined plant and anthropomorphic motifs. 
The octagonal dome above the crossing is also a masterpiece of polychromed stucco. In the center the Immaculate Conception is surrounded by musical angels and eight figures of the holy virgins and other martyrs. 
These include Santa Catalina de Alejandría, accompanied by a toothed wheel, Santa Bárbara, who carries a tower, Santa Úrsula who carries in her hands a banner with the Marian monogram and the palm of martyrdom, and Santa Lucía, holding a tray with eyes.
In the vault of the decorative under choir is the relief image of John Duns Scotus, a Franciscan who notably defended the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, flanked by Hapsburg double-headed eagles
The main altar preserves a neoclassical altarpiece in which showcases the venerated image of the Virgen del Rayo.
But the principal interest of the church is its collection of fine sculptures attributed to the workshop of the noted Cora family of colonial sculptors of Puebla, whose activity spans the entire 18th century, from baroque to neoclassical in style. The most prominent members were José Villegas Cora († 1786), called the “great master”, who according to tradition started the workshop, his nephews the prolific Zacarías (1752(?)-1819), José, and Antonio Villegas Cora, brother of the “great master” and master of polychromy. 
The statues of San Joaquín and Santa Ana in the main altarpiece, San Francisco and San José in the transept, as well as the monumental sculpture of San Cristóbal in the choir loft? are all from the Cora workshop. They preserve their original estofado finish, achieved here by means of a layer of colored varnish on silver foil, tooled to imitate precious stones or rich fabrics. 
 The image of San Joaquín is among the few examples of signed colonial sculptures, its base reading “YEAR OF 1785 CORA fecit”. 
The most striking piece in this group is Saint Christopher, the “Bearer of Christ” and patron of the hospital, reputedly the work of  Zacarías Cora.
text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of N Brooker and ELTB