Saints & Santos: Picturing the Holy in New Spain speaks to the importance of saints in New Spain, a viceroyalty that was part of the Spanish Empire from 1521-1821 and included modern-day Mexico, Central America, and the US Southwest. In the late sixteenth century, Rome’s attempts to manage sanctity as an official process had a profound impact throughout Spain and the Spanish viceroyalties. Saintly devotions traveled to Mexico, and circulated within the vast territory, transforming in the process. This show examines those devotions and transformations, and explores the region’s attempts to propagate its own holy figures. Drawing on public and private collections from Mexico and the United States, the exhibition attends to the role of images in the construction of the holy: not only were paintings, sculptures, and engravings routinely used to propagate, celebrate, resuscitate, and venerate saintly figures, they were often employed in official beatification and canonization proceedings. The relationship between sanctity and the pictorial is a long and revered tradition that continues in the work of New Mexico’s santero artists today. A lavishly illustrated catalogue and a scholarly symposium will accompany the exhibition in Santa Fe.
Francisco Martínez, Santa Rosalia de Palermo, 18th century, oil on canvas, 37 3/8 x 31 1/2 in. (95 cm x 80 cm). Museo Nacional del Virreinato, Tepotzotlan, Mexico. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.