New World, Spanish Colonial, Mexico, ca. 19th century CE. An incredible, glittering wood santo of the Virgin Mary, standing in an attitude of prayer, hands clasped before her, head tilted down. Her face is well-carved, with eyes downcast and mouth just slightly parted, as is her clothing, with folds and drapes that flow realistically down to pool at her hidden feet. Atop her head is a gold-painted tin crown with ovoid stones. She stands on a high wood pedestal with cherubs. Size: 6.5" L x 7" W x 25.75" H (16.5 cm x 17.8 cm x 65.4 cm)
This is a striking figure; her robes are largely gold on a dark grey/green background, but on her chest are the draped folds of a cream and gold garment that reflect light onto her face and hands. The level of detail on the robes is incredible. Over the years, worshippers have draped her with multiple rosaries and crucifixes on chains.
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: Ex-Francis & Lilly Robicsek Collection, Charlotte, NC
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