Vintage Retablo Ex Voto Religious Folk Art Painting on Metal, Our Lady of San Juan of Los Lagos

$160.65 $189.00

Although this retablo or ex-voto was made in the mid 20th Century, this form of religious art has its roots in the Spanish Colonial era. I've understood these piece when painted on metal or tin to be called "láminas" in Spanish, and they are perhaps one of the most beautiful expressions of deep faith of Catholics. The originated in "New Spain," which was what Mexico and the region of the Southwest that was part of Mexico was called. Being isolated from the Catholic Church in Spain, religious folk art took different forms, and one of these was the tradition of the láminas. When someone fell sick or got into trouble or had a seemingly impossible problem with no solution, that person would pray to a 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 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 naïve art, and they have a charming and primitive look to them. This particular lámina has a relatively well-preserved image, that of a couple, she is wearing a manta over her head, he a suit, and she has what I believe is a crucifix and he a candle. They kneel before Our Lady of San Juan of Los Lagos, a saint venerated in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, and also in Texas. Two angels, both dark, hold a ribbon over the saint's crowned head. The red border and the gown of the saint all have what looks to be some sort of glitter adhered to the surface. The writing below appears to have been done in pencil, and it has faded to the point where one can only make out a few words. I see "Virgen de San Juan del los Lagos" and "este Retablo" as well as a few other words here and there. The person who wrote the prayer is different from the person who signed it, as the writing of the prayer itself is done in script, whereas the signature is the blocky letters that look like someone who is likely illiterate and being shown how to write each letter. That person's name starts with PRI--the rest is illegible--and the surname was ESPINOSA. I can make out a year at the very bottom, it looks to be 1959. This could have been an elderly couple, one who knew this tradition, and who asked someone to make the retablo for them.

The piece measures just under 9-1/2" wide by about 7-1/4" tall. The metal has a hole at the top into which a nail would have been place for hanging. The piece is light at 2.8 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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