Latin America, Mexico, Jalisco, Totatiche, attributed to Geronimo de Leon, dated August 20, 1896. Published in Saints & Sinners, Mexican Devotional Art, California Heritage Museum, page 55. A finely painted rendering of San Francisco de Paula, the Italian saint who founded the Order of Minims or Hermits of Saint Francis in 1436 and infamously preached sermons about charity and humility to his pious followers, depicted close to the picture plane before a small edifice, perhaps a chapel erected in his honor, set in a lovely landscape, with his right hand reaching toward a lamb emerging from an oven with flames and plumes of smoke, a superb composition. The artist painted "San Francisco Fudador y confesor" (founder and confessor) underneath his feet and dated the piece Agosto 20 de 1896 (August 20, 1896).
San Francisco de Paula is credited with miraculous cures, resurrecting the deceased, protection against fires, comfort for the maimed, the blind, and otherwise disabled, and preventing plagues. In Mexican paintings, San Francisco de Paula is depicted as a friar with the word Caritas/Charitas or Caridad, oftentimes surrounded by flames, in his vecinity. He received his name following a visit with his parents to the shrine of Saint Francis of Assissi. At a young age of fifteen, San Francisco de Paula became a hermit and elected to reside in a cave near Reggio. Like most folk art retablos of this saint, the artist was certain to include pertinent iconography; in particular the lamb emerging from an oven with flames and plumes of smoke, however, this artist also displays wonderful techniques. Note the strong desire to demonstrate linear and atmospheric perspective as San Francisco de Paula stands before the small chapel that was erected in his honor that is set in a tranquil landscape. Note also the lifelike modeling of the saint's head, hands, and feet, as well as the sophisticated manner in which the artist captured a variety of different textures. Whether stone, foliage, textiles, or flesh, all come to life in this spiritual scene! Size: 7" W x 10" H (17.8 cm x 25.4 cm)
Provenance: Ex-Historia Antiques, James Caswell collection, Santa Monica, CA.
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