Friday, May 27, 2022

Oaxaca. Santo Domingo; the underchoir

The earliest surviving work of art in the church of Santo Domingo in the city of Oaxaca is the spectacular painted relief of the Genealogy of St. Dominic adorning the under choir (sotocoro). 

Based on the medieval motif of the Tree of Jesse, it spreads out across the vault in the form of a multi-branched vine. Springing from the inconspicuous reclining figure of Don Felix de Guzmán, the patriarch of the family, it traces the earthly lineage of the founder of the Dominican Order. Members of his noble family, real and imaginary, emerge like blossoms from buds set among the tendrils and bunches of grapes. 

Santo Domingo, the relief of the Virgin

These diminutive, fresh-faced figures exude a charm and directness that establish this ceiling as one of the earliest masterpieces of Mexican popular art. The Virgin Mary relief is a later addition, placed like a Christmas ornament at the top of the tree.

text © 2005/2020 Richard D. Perry

color photography by Felipe Falcón.

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Sunday, May 15, 2022

Texcoco. The Third Order chapel

The chapel of the Third Order is one of several buildings in the precincts of the cathedral of Texcoco, formerly a major Franciscan monastery and evangelical center. 
    Also known as the "Expiatory Temple", it was founded in the late 1500s to serve the lay Third Order of Franciscans, but essentially rebuilt in the early 1700s.
The West Facade.
The lobed main doorway is the only remaining element of the 16th century front, framed by spiral wreathed Corinthian columns. Foliated fleur de lis reliefs adorn the archway, whose keystone bears the relief of a bishop, possibly representing San Luis Obispo.
Paired tritostyle columns with wavy fluting — barroco de estrías móviles— flank the upper level, where relief archangels with Indian plumed headdresses stand on corbels to either side of a stone statue of an unidentified figure, thought to portray St. Philip of Jesus, a Franciscan and the first Mexican saint.
   The Franciscan crossed arms are emblazoned above the octagonal choir window.
The Cathedral entry
The entry is related to the nearby side entry of the cathedral which is more complex, with a lobed, moorish inspired doorway adorned with rosette reliefs and octagonal window. Paired spiral columns and plain pilasters on the upper level flank three sculpture niches occupied by statuary.
The Chapel Interior
The main event here is the sumptuous gilded main altarpiece, fashioned in late baroque estípite style and now dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe whose image stands in the center. 
main altarpiece
Statues of Saints Joachim and Anne occupy the lateral niches.
   This retablo is very much in the style of the main retablo in the cathedral, and may well be from the same workshop.
side retablo
There are also retablos in the transepts, one of which on the south side appears somewhat earlier and is notable for relief portraits of rugged apostles on the predella level.

text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and ELTB

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Puebla. La Concordia 2

In the adjacent priests’ residence, la Casa de Ejercicios is the arcaded 3 storey Patio de los Azulejos, a  classic in the barroco poblano style—a virtuoso tapestry of colorful tilework, set in a variety of patterns and framing varied door and window openings.

text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker and from online sources.