Spanish Colonial, Mexico, ca. 19th century CE. A carved wooden oval relief panel depicting a 3/4 bust of a pope with a triple crown, looking upward toward the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove aloft in the billowing clouds of the celestial realm, dressed in sumptuous vestments and a triple papal tiara, and raising both hands - his left hand forming a gesture of benediction. All is delineated in low to high relief - some areas almost in the round. All is adorned in rich red and brown pigments and much is further embellished with gold leaf. Size: 18.5" L x 13.5" W (47 cm x 34.3 cm)
Popes of the Catholic Church wore the triple crown or papal tiara as early as the 8th century. Artwork from the time period features popes wearing a cone-shaped helmet with a small crown attached to the bottom as we see on this relief. The first mention of a pope wearing a tiara dates to the early 12th century. A second crown was added in the 13th century - symbolizing that the pope had authority over both temporal and spiritual matters - and distinguishing it from crowns worn by the monarchy. The third crown was added in the 14th century. Some believe that the three crowns represent Christ's three offices - that of priest, prophet, and king.
Provenance: private California, USA collection
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Repaired from about three pieces with adhesive and old wooden supports on verso. Some minor losses to peripheries and high pointed areas as shown. Normal surface wear with some pigment and gold leaf losses, but much remains.