This vintage painting on wood of San Pasqual (Saint Pascual) was done by Taos "santera" Carmen Velarde of Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico. This form of religious folk art is called a "retablo" and these pieces are a part of the Hispanic Catholic culture of New Mexico that originated with the Spanish settlers who came to this region in the late sixteenth century. As described by Montez Gallery in Santa Fe, those who created religious folk art merged "their old European art form with their experiences in New Spain, and created their own unique devotional art. The santos (saints), were made in two-dimensional form known as retablos, and three-dimensional sculptural pieces known as bultos. Both are among the most valued collectibles of religious antiques today. The contemporary santos and bultos made by well-known artists, many of whom are descendants of the original santeros (religious artists), are equally valued by those seeking spiritual support and serious investment value." Retablos and bultos of New Mexico are a beautiful form of devotional art, an early form of "outsider art," that can be found in churches, museums, and personal home altars, as well as displayed as pieces of art in many Southwestern homes. The artist who created this piece is highly collected, her works found in galleries and museums, including the Smithsonian. She was born in 1928 and began painting saints at the age of five! She was best known for making kiva fireplaces throughout northern New Mexico, perfecting the form. She was and still is considered a living treasure of Taos, New Mexico.
The retablo measures 19" tall by 12-1/2" wide. The piece was likely painted in the early 1990s, and it comes with copies of articles about the artist, as well as certificates, tacked onto the back. It was originally sold for $125, as we can still see that price on the papers. Even in the 1970s Velarde was a recognized folk artist and living cultural treasure.
Folk art of the faithful.
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We get correspondance almost daily asking how much certain items are worth or what the price was of items that have sold, and we can no longer respond to these messages.