New World, Spanish Colonial, Mexico, ca. early 19th century CE. A beautiful and old wooden representation of Saint Paul, depicted here with his characteristic coiffure and book. At one time he probably had a sword (symbolizing his martyrdom by beheading) but it is now gone. He has a tin halo and stands, barefoot, on a wide, tiered pedestal. His robes have been repeatedly overpainted with many different colors but seem dominantly to be red, yellow, blue, and white. Size: 8.5" L x 11" W x 18.5" H (21.6 cm x 27.9 cm x 47 cm)
Saint Paul the Apostle, also known as Saul of Tarsus, spread the gospel of Christ to the first century world. For roughly two decades, he traveled extensively, founding multiple churches throughout Asia Minor and southern Europe. He was both a Jew and a Roman citizen, allowing him to speak with authority to both of those groups. He was also a prolific writer: fourteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament are attributed to him.
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, North Carolina, USA
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