Friday, September 23, 2022

Zacatecas. The Cathedral of the Assumption 1

In earlier posts we have looked at various colonial treasures in the state and city of Zacatecas*.
In this and a subsequent post we tackle the preeminent monument in the city: the cathedral of the Assumption.  See our earlier post on the cathedral crucifix.
This unique baroque building boasts three facades of unparalleled ornamental richness, informed by a popular feeling. Begun in 1729, several noted designers and architects contributed to its final appearance. 
In this first post we look at the west front of the cathedral, a classic example of Mexican horror vacui with no surface left undecorated. 
The fantastical, shield like facade, sculpted in rose colored stone, rises in three tiers, each framed by spiral columns wreathed in vines, shells and angels; pearls fruit and feathers are embedded in the tapestry of relief vegetation that fills the intermediate spaces. 

 Between the columns ornamental niches with sculpted pedestals house figures of Christ and the Apostles—13 in all. 
Above the mixtlinear porch, a rose window also ringed by luxuriant relief opens in the middle tier,

A relief of God the Father stands alone in the surmounting gable niche, accompanied by musical angels almost lost in the mass of surrounding floral relief.

text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
photography by the author and Niccolo Brooker

Friday, September 16, 2022

Michoacán. San Nicolás Chucándiro

The church front before restoration

Originally founded by the Franciscans and later ceded to the Augustinians as a dependency of Cuitzeo, this early mission in the northern Michoacan lakeland was rebuilt in the 1640s as a full convento. 

the church front as restored
It has recently undergone major work; a round turret has been add to the bell tower and a second belfry built atop the south wall. 

The facade with its imposing cut stone entry has been cleaned and repointed, drawing attention to the unusual reliefs around the doorway, which may represent plants or possibly symbolize the spouting waters of the hot springs that gave Chucándiro its place name, also perhaps related to the reliefs on the sanctuary vault.

Other renovations include the opening up of the old porteria beside the church and refurbishment of the attractive two story cloister notable for its prominent shell reliefs—a classic decorative motif in Michoacán.

Another curiosity is the carved stone atrium cross topped with a sundial.

text © 2022 Richard D. Perry

images courtesy of Niccolo Brooker, Diana Roberts and online sources.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Mexico. San Miguel Atlautla

Set in the shadow of the volcano Popocatepetl, the church of San Miguel Atlautla appears hewn from local basalt blocks inside and out.
Beside the dark, cliff like exterior stands a stone cross, also sculpted from local basalt with numerous symbols of the Passion in high relief.
The principal colonial artifact inside the church is the expansive early 18th century altarpiece, replete with gilded spiral columns and home to a recently restored statue of the titular saint as well as colonial paintings of archangels. Several other paintings illustrate scenes from the life of Christ.
The porteria beside the church leads to an overgrown patio.

text © 2022 Richard D. Perry
color images from online sources