Latin America, Mexico, ca. 1800 CE. Hand-painted on heavy gauge tin and set in a beautifully crafted nicho, a special retablo depicting they youthful St. Bernadette witnessing a vision of the Virgin Mary in the French village of Lourdes. Icons like these were placed above household altars to venerate the saints (retablo literally means "behind the altar"). Mary is shown wearing long white robes and a blue sash, as described by Bernadette when she told of the apparition. Her hands are clasped in prayer, and from them hangs a long rosary. She wears a golden crown and emanates a golden light, and she appears to float slightly above a bed of red roses. The girl Bernadette kneels before her, hands outstretched holding a rosary, looking up at Mary, her pious visage framed by brunette hair under a white veil. Size: retablo 9.5" L x 7" W (24.1 cm x 17.8 cm);nicho: 13" L x 10.25" W (33 cm x 26 cm)
This retablo is also set in a beautiful tin nicho that is hand punched with running crescent moon motifs around the perimeter and adorned by four circular rosettes, one at each corner. Double perforations through each rosette suggest that these were once embellished with additional ornaments.
Provenance: ex-Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA collection
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Expected age wear to the retablo with some waviness, creases to lower corners, and pigment losses as shown, but imagery is still discernible. Nicho shows expected indentations and there is some separation between the border panels and the box form behind. The nicho has developed a nice age patina, and there are two perforations through the roundels adorning each corner, suggesting earlier attachments.