New World, Mexico, Spanish Colonial Style, ca. 19th century CE. A beautiful, hand-carved wooden santo depicting the Virgin Mary and Christ Child, with Christ holding in His hand the orb representing His dominion over the world. The paint is in places brown, in others creamy white, and in still others darkly golden; this gives the figures a beautiful, almost monochromatic color scheme. Tin halos mark each of their heads, emphasizing their holiness. The clothing that each wears is expertly carved into lifelike ripples and folds. The figures stand atop a three-tiered wooden pedestal painted a pale red with white flourishes. Size: 6.25" L x 8.5" W x 26" H (15.9 cm x 21.6 cm x 66 cm)
Santos played an important role in bringing the Catholic Church to the New World with the Spanish colonists. These religious figures were hand-carved and often furnished with crowns, jewels, and other accessories, usually funded by religious devotees, and were used as icons to explain the major figures - Mary, Christ, and the saints - to new, indigenous converts. Likewise, they served as a connection to the Old World for Spanish colonists far from home. They became a folk art tradition in the Spanish New World, from modern day Guatemala to as far north as New Mexico and Colorado. Many of them were lovingly cared for over the years, with repairs and paint added as they aged, and played an active part for a long time in the religious life of their communities.
Provenance: private Francis & Lilly Robicsek Collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, acquired second half of the 20th century
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Excellent craquelure on surface. Some losses to paint and overpainting as shown. Pedestal is 19th century but appears newer than the figure; they are attached by an antique nail. One side of the pedestal is missing a wooden flourish that is present on the other side.