17th Century
47 in HIGH x 24.5 in WIDE
(119.38 cm HIGH x 62.23 cm WIDE)
Museum Purchase

Painting. Description: Mexican oil painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe appearing to Diego; There are three arches at the top of the painting which is unframed. There are two angles one holding a guitar, one a piece of paper on either side of the Virgin. Diego wears a white robe and brown sandals and holds pink roses. History: The Virgin appeared many times in Dec. 1531 to a converted Indian, Juan Diego, to ask that a Basilica be built in her honor. When he asked for a sign he might show to the Bishop, she told him to pick all the flowers on the summit of Tepeyac and take them to him. When he unfolded his cape with the flowers inside, the portrait of the Virgin was found miraculously painted on it. From The Spiritual Conquest of Mexico by R. Ricard, 1966. Disposition: On Exhibit From the History Information Station Object: Painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, oil on wood panel, from 17th century Mexico. She is surrounded by a large halo and stands on a crescent moon supported by a cherub, an image that dates to medieval illustrations of the Apocalyptic Woman. History: According to tradition, the Virgin Mary twice appeared to a Mexican Indian, Juan Diego, at Tepeyac near Mexico City in December, 1531. She instructed him to tell the bishop that a church should be built in her honor on that spot. When Diego appeared before the bishop to make the request, roses fell from his cloak and it bore an image of Mary, as a sign that his story was true. A small church dedicated to Our Lady was built in 1533, and a larger one was begun in 1556 and dedicated in 1709. The cloak with Our Lady of Guadalupe's image miraculously imprinted upon it can be seen today in the Guadalupe sanctuary near Mexico City where it is enshrined. She is the patroness of Mexico and of Hispanic people in the United States. Museum Purchase A Saintly Subject In the Spanish colonies, the Catholic Church provided a formal structure for daily life, thought, and actions. Paintings (retablos) and statues (bultos) with religious themes played an important part in the transmission of the Church's traditions and teachings. Collectively known as santos, they were used to instill a reverence for the important Church personages and to encourage active observance of the holy days. Each holy personage has its own unique efficacy in one or more areas of life, and the "meaning" of each is universal in the Catholic world. The painters and carvers follow a specific iconography, making each saint or holy person easily identifiable by what they wear and carry. Small retablos are for use at home. Each image embodies the spiritual virtues of the personage portrayed, reminds the worshipper of those virtues, and is a focus for prayer. They were commissioned or purchased from peddlers who offered them door to door or sold them in stands. The devout place them on home altars and appeal to them for remedies to aliments and problems of every kind.
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