DESCRIPTION: A 19th C. Mexican retablo painting on tin of the Virgin Mary wearing a golden crown and holding a crowned Christ Child who wears a transparent robe. A scarf is drawn across Mary's right shoulder and her dark blue cape is initialed with her ciphers in gold. In this touching scene, the Christ child rests his right hand on her arm and grips her right thumb with his left hand. While this rendition of "Refugio de Pecadores" (Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners) follows the traditional composition, its green background, red and gold crowns, and the star lined halo (rather than floral), set it apart. In 1719, a Jesuit missionary brought a copy of a Refugio de Pecadores painting to Zacatecas, Mexico. Originally created for an altar at Frascati, Italy, the painting inspired the locals to adopt Refugio de Pecadores as their patron. PROVENANCE: Ex Ramon Kelly collection, prominent artist of Denver, CO. CONDITION: Some wear to painted surface as is common in antique retablos; one small nail hole at the top center for hanging. DIMENSIONS: 6.25" wide (15.9 cm) x 9.5" high (24.1 cm).
CULTURAL BACKGROUND: A retablo in Mexican folk art is a devotional painting using iconography derived from traditional Roman Catholic church art. Retablos are often painted on rectangular sheets of tin illustrating holy images such as Christ, the Virgin Mother, or one of the hundreds of Catholic saints. These images were sought by devout believers who displayed them as part of their home altars in order to honor their patron Saints, to petition them for specific requests or give thanks for protection through a trial or illness.