Latin America, Mexico, ca. 19th century CE. A finely painted retablo on heavy gauge tin depicting a crowned/haloed St. Joseph (San Jose) tenderly cradling the infant Jesus (golden rays radiating from Christ's visage) and a lily in his left hand, while holding a blooming staff in the crook of his right elbow. Jesus holds a cross in his left hand, representing his Christian dominion. Both are dressed in flowing vestments, the folds of the draperies nicely delineated. This composition is set in a carefully worked tin nicho. Size: 16.75" W x 25.5" H (42.5 cm x 64.8 cm)
The shadow box style nicho displays fabulous artistry, its form featuring a triangular pediment flanked by column-like forms with pointed terminals, the entire surface adorned with punched and repousse floral, foliate, and geometric motifs. A fine and large example.
The cult of Joseph originated during the time of Luther when the Catholic Church was seeking out new heroes to meet the needs of the Counter Reformation. Prior to this time, Joseph was somewhat ignored. The Carmelite Order, under the direction of Saint Theresa, rejuvenated the image of Saint Joseph. Instead of being portrayed as an elderly man who watched over Mary, he grew to be depicted as a virile man in the prime of his life, full of youth and strength, yet portrayed as a gentle man of tenderness as we see in this example.
Provenance: Ex-private D. Meyerson collection
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