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19th C. Colonial Mexico Wood Santo - St. Augustine

New World, Mexico, Spanish Colonial period, ca. 19th century CE. A tall and sensitively carved wooden figure of St. Augustine. He stands with his head tilted, his eyes to the sky, the skin of his face a fine alabaster color and the detail of his curly beard and hair excellently done. He wears a tall mitre to signify his status as a bishop. Red robes complete his outfit, in some areas with gold and black highlights. He holds a staff in one hand and a book in the other, and stands on a tall, tiered pedestal. Size: 9.25" L x 11.5" W x 27.5" H (23.5 cm x 29.2 cm x 69.8 cm)

St. Augustine (354-430 CE) was a hugely prolific author, and one we know a great deal about because he wrote an autobiography, the "Confessions," in which he soul-searches his way to a personal philosophy and finds his faith. He is one of the most important thinkers of the early Christian period, and his combination of the Greek authors, especially Plato, with the theology of the Scripture shaped European intellectual discourse for a millennium and resonates to this day in Christian thought.

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.

Condition: Hands and mitre have been repaired and reattached. Craquelure and small areas of loss to the paint as shown. Losses to two of the fingers on one hand. Traces of wax to stabilize accessories. Some areas of overpainting. Piece is not attached to its stand - they are two pieces. Stand also has some lost pigment and areas of overpainting.

Provenance: private Francis & Lilly Robicsek Collection, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

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