Here we have a Mexican ex-voto--or "lámina," as those made of metal or tin are called in Spanish--that has a prayer written on it dating to October 24, 1969, which may be the date this was made, although given the newness of the metal and the fact that it has a Mexican import sticker, it was likely made in the 1990s based on a reproduction of older pieces. Because there are so few pieces dating to the timeframe in which these were most commonly painted, the 17th and 18th centuries, they have been reproduced since about the 1970s, and continue to be made today to look much older. The tradition of láminas came about when Catholics of Spanish descent living in what used to be called "New Spain," were so isolated from the Catholic Church in Spain that they began to create their own religious art. These lámina ex votos were created when someone fell sick or got into trouble or had a seemingly impossible problem with no solution; the person seeking an answer to their prayer would pray to a specific saint, often one known for being a patron in the area where the difficulty lies. And IF the prayer was answered or the problem solved, that person would either themselves or have someone with a bit more artistic talent paint a story of gratitude on a piece of metal or wood to the patron saint who answered the prayer. It was never a trained artist who would paint the story; generally, it was someone who was known to have a good hand with a paintbrush. If the person who had the trouble or who was praying for intervention had some talent, even just a bit, they might do this painting themselves. Hence, these paintings are a form of folk art or naive art, and they have a charming and primitive look to them. This particular lámina says that "On the 24th of October 1969 Mrs. Esperanaza Rivero gave thanks to Saint Martin of Porres for saving her son who became invalid after suffering a fall from a tree." So what's not written is the story of a son who could have died; he did become disabled but his life was saved, and the mother was grateful for that act. Saint Martin de Porres Velázquez, a Peruvian lay brother of the Dominican Order who was beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony. Given the date of this prayer (whether that is the actual date or this is a reproduction a bit later) Saint Martin would have been a new saint. It is likely that this piece was based on an original of that date, since the timing of when one would pray to this saint would have to be after 1962.
This ex voto measures about 8-3/4" wide by a little over 11" tall. The metal has a hole at the top into which a nail would have been place for hanging. There is crazing in the paint, either by design or from age as the undercoat is gesso, which is prone to crazing. The piece is light at about 7 ounces.
The power of faith, and the power of the past. May they both endure.
Note that due to lighting plus monitor settings for brightness, contrast and other factors, there may be differences in the colors and tones of photos versus that of the actual item. Please message with questions and I will respond as soon as possible.
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