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Framed 19th C. Mexican Ex Voto on Canvas - Ex-Sotheby's

Latin America, Mexico, ca. 1895. A large and beautifully framed ex-voto, hand-painted on canvas in a vibrant color palette to depict a scene described by the text which generally translates, "On July 20, 1895, as Dona Ensevia Gracia was leaving from Atlixco for Huaquechula, a man suddenly came out of a gate and frightened her horse who, with a jump, shot over the stones, breaking her right arm and compromising her left. As it affected them deeply, her mother and husband invoked the spirits, and with their power she was revived. And thanks to all and for such a great favor, they offer this retablo." See more discussion of iconography below. Custom wood frame with attractive design and woven leather bands adorning mitered corners. Size: 21.25" W x 16.125" H (54 cm x 41 cm); 24.75" W x 19.625" H (62.9 cm x 49.8 cm) including frame

The painting presents a dramatic rendition of the Road to Calvalry - Christ's final journey from the house of Pilate, where he had been scourged and mocked by soldiers who placed a crown of thorns on his head, to the hill of Golgotha where he would be crucified - at top center. We see Christ bearing the Cross along with onlookers, including a soldier in full armor, a figure playing a horn, an elderly man helping Christ hold the Cross, and two women. Luke notes that a great throng followed, including many women who were lamenting and two thieves (Luke 23: 26-32). To the left and right are a white altar housing a cross, Cristo Negro, and a bishop - all floating upon clouds - thus representing the "spirits" referred to in the written narrative. Below we see the man who came through the gate, the horse who threw Dona Ensevia Gracia to the ground when surprised by the man, a fallen Dona Gracia with blood streaming from her right arm, as well as her mother and husband holding roses and candles and kneeling in prayer. All is set before a lush landscape to provide a sense of depth and perspective.

Ex-votos are narrative paintings indicative of healing or blessing. This tradition was inspired by the Greeks and was brought to the New World by the Spaniards. These votive paintings were hung in a church or placed adjacent to an image in order to celebrate and give thanks for the recovery of the donor from an illness or dangerous situation. In essence, ex-votos represent the spiritual or physical gains received by the donor. These paintings include hand painted passages that relate the details of the cure or the rescue. Typically, however, this commentary is replete with regional dialect and somewhat tricky to translate. Nevertheless, if one is familiar with the Spanish language, it is possible to understand the narratives told by these anecdotal paintings.

Condition: Expected age wear with nice craquelure to areas and slight impression from stretcher bars - but overall, the imagery and text are well preserved. Protective board placed on verso and joined to framing. Wired for suspension. Frame is excellent.

Provenance: private Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA collection; ex-Sotheby's Latin American Sale (May 2 & 3, 1990, lot 84)

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