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Title:Our Lady of Guadalupe Retablo
Date Made:1795-1820
Materials:wood; pine; paint
Place Made:United States; New Mexico
Measurements:panel: 8 x 5 1/2 in.; 20.32 x 13.97 cm
Narrative Inscription:  unsigned, undated
Accession Number:  SC 1985.32.16
Credit Line:Gift of Priscilla Paine Van der Poel, class of 1928
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

New Mexican retablos of the 18th-19th century were commonly created from water-based paints (colored with native dyes) and wood (pine). This faded retablo shows the Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most popular retablo figures. A nearly identical retablo, likely made by the same artist, is at Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico. Dating from 1795-1820, the lookalike is almost a perfect match for this painted item. This retablo is worn (perhaps as a result of continuous touching while praying) and shows the Virgin Mary adorned with a small crown, rays of light emanating from her body, and a cherubic figure at her feet. Painted with a variety of colors, the retablo depicts the portrayal of the Indigenous-like Virgin Mary witnessed in 1531 on a hillside in Mexico City. Because Juan Diego, a Catholic man of Native descent, first reported this apparition, the figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe was used as a popular motif to convert Native populations to Catholicism. She remains one of the most common retablo motifs. No holes are present on this retablo, perhaps signaling that she was tilted against a wall or previously framed for display. AP2018

Christianity; religion; colonialism

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