A nice 19th century Mexican folk retablo on tin depicting San José. In his role as the husband and protector of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph became one of the more popular retablo subjects, representing an estimated 7% of 19th century pieces. According to the Apocrypha, Mary’s suitors left their staffs in the courtyard of her home overnight, and by the next morning, Joseph’s has sprouted blossoms, indicating he was God’s choice as her husband. The lily-covered staff became a primary attribute of Saint Joseph, and in this retablo it is shown just behind the infant Jesus. The saint is dressed in his traditional colors of green and yellow, the colors of fertility, new life and marriage. This retablo has a pleasant, particularly “folky” feel to it because of the outlining treatment of the fingers and Jesus’ unique garment that looks almost like a modern footed pajama.
Origin: Mexico, ca. 1880. Condition: very good, normal bending at corners and normal moderately-light paint loss. Size: 9-7/8” x 13-3/8”.