Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ixmiquilpan. The Church Murals 2: The Battle frescoes

In our first post on the church murals of Ixmiquilpan we described the colorful murals in the narthex and apse, focusing on the eagles and jaguars portrayed and their possible significance in relation to the "battle" frescoes along the nave.
shouting warriors armed with bow, arrow, shield, macana sword and trophy head
The Battle Murals
In this post we attempt a description and survey of opinion on the so-called Battle frescoes that line the nave in an originally continuous frieze.
   More than in any other colonial Mexican church, the painted nave of Ixmiquilpan allows us to glimpse the dynamic imagination and skill of indigenous artists at a rare moment when their traditional mode of visual expression was least restricted by European artistic canons. 
   The later 1500s were uncertain times for the residents of lxmiquilpan. Expansion of Spanish settlement and the development of the silver mines north of Mexico City brought the colonists and Otomí villagers of the region into sharp conflict with the nomadic Chichimec tribes of the northern mountains.
   In the Chichimeca Wars, the colonial authorities made a concerted effort to eradicate these last pockets of resistance to Spanish rule. During the hostilities, mission towns were frequently targets of guerrilla raids and the fortress monasteries truly served a defensive purpose. 

   Even fifty years after the Conquest, conflict with marauding native warriors was still an immediate concern rather than a distant memory. Ixmiquilpan itself was attacked by fierce mounted tribesmen as late as 1569—an assault successfully repulsed by the Otomí in a celebrated local victory. These events, compounded by the acute problems of evangelization, must have preoccupied the Augustinian friars as well as the settled native people. 
   The battle scenes along the nave at Ixmiquilpan are indeed unique, all the more remarkable for their frankly prehispanic appearance; in their imagery, color and pictorial style the murals bear an uncanny resemblance to ancient temple decorations and codicesClearly they are the work of a talented group of tlacuilos, or elite native artists, who were allowed unprecedented freedom of expression by the Augustinian friars.
Hidden for centuries beneath layers of yellow paint, these spectacular murals only came to light in the 1960s.  The figures are drawn in a vivid graphic style and enhanced with red, brown and ocher passages. The foliage is blue-green against a rich apricot background. The use of flat color washes have a modern look, reminding some observers of the work of Picasso! 
north wall of nave (after Wake) >

<  south wall of nave (after Wake)
Starting from the narthex or underchoir, these large-scale murals proceed eastward towards the sanctuary along both sides of the nave. The solitary first figure on the south wall shouts and sounds a huehuetl drum, perhaps to start the battle.
Narthex mural, south wall.  figure with drum
The unfolding pattern is that of an antique grotesque style frieze, with urns, medallions and fantastic beings set amid continuous, undulating, turquoise acanthus foliage. 
   Although the battle scenes have a strongly stylized and ritualistic tone, they are also very animated; one can almost hear the clash of arms, the war whoops and the cries of the dying. In fact it has been suggested that the entire sequence is a pictorial analogy to Aztec war songs and chants.

The friezes graphically portray intense hand-to-hand combat between native warriors and various mythological and fantastic supernaturals as well as naked Chichimecs, complete with battle cries. 
Chichichimec warriors
The combatants are two-dimensional, presented in outline with no modeling. Except for the eyes, anatomical details are shown in profile, and there are numerous authentic items of indigenous dress and gesture—speech scrolls, spotted jaguar robes and huaraches (native sandals) worn by centaurs.
On the south wall, jaguar and coyote warriors outfitted with shields (chimalli) and obsidian-edged native swords (macanas) do furious battle with centaurs and dragon-like hippogriffs that emerge like obscene growths from the giant tendrils.  
white centaur with copilli, bow, arrows and war shield
crested yellow dragon with copilli and bow
The giant foliage in these friezes works both pictorially, as a device to integrate the forms and figures of the design, and thematically, as a sinister intrusion of the netherworld into the land of the living.  This phytomorphic motif extends to the warriors themselves, who wear foliated skirts and whose copilli and speech scrolls also terminate in leaves. 
   Along the north frieze, plumed warriors subdue apparently pregnant women, who also emerge from giant acanthus buds. These bizarre figures may represent the cihuateteo—souls of women who died in child-birth—sent by the Aztec earth goddess, Cihuacoatl, to harass mortals and tempt them into sin. In fact the red and turquoise sky bands bordering the frescoes suggest that that celestial battles are being portrayed.
Interpretations *
It is challenging to interpret these puzzling murals satisfactorily, although several explanations have been proposed.
   For the friars they may have embodied the perennial Christian struggle between good and evil, between damnation and salvation—an obsession of the Augustinians during the turbulent 1570s.
   The largely prehispanic imagery indicates that the murals were intended primarily for a native audience. While on one hand they may commemorate an historic, regional triumph of the Otomís over the invading Chichimecs, on a more covert level the murals may also have been viewed as celebrating the supremacy, both physical and spiritual, of the imperial Aztecs over their traditional enemies. 
   In fact, in 1482, Tizoc, the newly elected lord of Aztec Tenochtitlan, employed Otomi warriors from Actopan, Atotonilco, and Ixmiquilpan to mount a campaign against the independent city-state of nearby Metztitlan, in order to obtain sacrificial victims for his investiture.
The "battle" frieze at Cacaxtla (detail)
The Ixmiquilpan frieze too, is startlingly reminiscent of the Maya influenced battle mural at Cacaxtla (Tlaxcala) dating from the late 7th century.
ABEL-TURBY, Mickey, “The New World Augustinians and Franciscans in Philosophical Opposition: The Visual Statement”, Colonial Latin American Review, 1996, vol. 5: 1
  ALBORNOZ BUENO, Alicia, La memoria del olvido. Glifos y murales de la iglesia de San Miguel Arcángel Ixmiquilpan Hidalgo: Teopan dedicado a Tezcatlipoca, Pachuca, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, 1994. 
  BALLESTEROS, Víctor, La iglesia y el convento de San Miguel Arcángel de Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, México, unam, 2000. 
  CARRILLO Y GARIEL, Abelardo, Ixmiquilpan, México, Dirección de Monumentos Coloniales/INAH, 1961. 
  ESTRADA DE GERLERO, Elena, “El friso monumental de Itzmiquilpan”Actes du XLII Congrès International des Américanistes, Paris, 2-9 September, 1976.
  FRASER, Valerie, “Ixmiquilpan: from European ornament to Mexican picto- graph”, Altars and Idols: the life of the dead in Mexico, M.A. Gallery Studies catalogue, University of Essex, 1991, 
  GUERRERO GUERRERO, Raúl,  Murales de Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, Gobierno del Estado de Hidalgo, 1992. 
JACKSON, Robert H., Conflict and Conversion in Sixteenth Century Central Mexico: The Augustinian War on and Beyond the Chichimeca Frontier, European History and Culture E-Books Online, Collection 2013
  NYE, Harriet, “The Talking Murals of Ixmiquilpan”Mexico Quarterly Re- view, 1968, vol. 3: 2,
  PIERCE, Donna L., “Identification of the Warriors in the Frescoes of Ixmiquilpan”Research Center for the Arts and Humanities Review, 1981, vol. 4: 4, October, p. 1-8.
  VERGARA HERNANDEZ, Arturo, Las pinturas del templo de Ixmiquilpan. ¿Evangelización, reivindicación indígena o propaganda de guerra? Hidalgo,  Unam, 2010.
text & commentary © 2018 Richard D. Perry
color images by the author and Niccolo Brooker

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ixmiquilpan: A Bagpiper at the Nativity

In previous posts on the Ixmiquilpan convento murals we have looked at several of the superb sacristy frescoes, including the unique Noli me Tangere scene, as well as an incomplete Last Judgment in the lower cloister.
   In this seasonal post we describe another unique mural in the cloister, that of the Nativity or Adoration of the Shepherds. Mary and Joseph are conventionally posed in the foreground; one well dressed shepherd kneels on the left, while another plays the bagpipe on the right.
The infant Christ gestures from the manger, flanked by a sheep and a fiercely horned bull. Above, the star of Bethlehem appears over a city on the right and a celestial choir of angels rejoices at left. 
Like several others at Ixmiquilpan, this mural contains rare or even unique elements, in this case the presence of the bagpiper at the Nativity—found nowhere else in early Mexican mural art, although it is depicted in an 18th century painting by Cristóbal de Villalpando at Cuautinchan.
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry. photography by the author and Niccolò Brooker

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ixmiquilpan. The Church Murals 1: Eagles and Jaguars

Our previous posts on the Ixmiquilpan murals were focused on those of the convento, notably the superb sacristy frescoes, including the unique Noli me Tangere scene, as well as an incomplete Last Judgment in the lower cloister.
   In this post, the first of two, we look at the famous and unique church murals, which have been the subject of much interest and speculation since their uncovering in the 1950s. *
   For the native peoples of Mexico, the eagle and the jaguar symbolized opposing forces in a multi-faceted cosmic conflict: between the celestial and the terrestrial, light and darkness, life and death, good and evil. 
   This ancient psychodrama, as enacted by the military orders of the Eagle and the Jaguar, was integral to the Aztec cosmology and, after the Conquest, was often appropriated by the evangelizing friars to dramatize related themes in Christian doctrine. Usually confined to colorful theatrical presentations, staged outdoors on festive occasions, such themes rarely found their way into the permanent arts of the church or convento.

   One notable exception is the spectacular church murals at the great Augustinian priory of San Miguel Ixmiquilpan, especially the unique Battle frescoes that surround the nave.
   Our focus in this post is on one critical group of the murals, those located beneath the choir, which, together with two facade reliefs and a panel in the apse, may provide an introduction and key to the main Battle friezes. 
The rose and lavender west front of San Miguel Ixmiquilpan, distinguished by its triumphal arch, is a classic statement of architectural elegance in the Augustinian Renaissance tradition. 
   However, the escutcheons (escudos) that project on either side of the choir window sound a quite different note. Apart from the European heraldic framing, their imagery is entirely prehispanic, without reference to Spanish or Christian symbols, and thus foreshadowing the extraordinary murals inside the church. 
The relief to the left (north) of the choir window shows an eagle perched on a cactus sprouting from a rock above flowing water, the traditional glyph of ancient Tenochtitlan, adopted by the Aztecs as their imperial symbol and now the emblem of modern Mexico. 
   Significantly, the eagle is costumed as a warrior with a plumed headdress (copilli) unfurling his war banner (pantli) or spear. Eroded jaguar figures, also with war bonnets, crouch to either side carrying native war shields (chimalli). Speech scrolls suggest that a conversation seems to be taking place.
The related relief on the right (south) shows what appear to be hybrid eagle and jaguar figures on either side of a stylized pathway with footprints, again with water flowing beneath. Both wear plumed crests and carry chimalli, and again, comma-like speech scrolls curl from their mouths, indicating a dialogue.
The Narthex Murals
Inside the church, these facade "dialogues" continue in the large, curving lunette murals that extend up to the vaults beneath the choir, where two facing frescoes create dynamic tableaux in bright colors—red, blue, black, orange and yellow. 

   These two frescoes introduce the battle themes that are enacted in the outsize friezes that stretch along the nave on both sides to the apse at the east end of the church.
The more complete south side mural amplifies the themes of the right hand facade relief. Here an eagle with spread wings is flanked by two jaguars sitting on rocks or stylized mountains, who roar "flower-song" speech scrolls in his direction. The jaguar on the right wears a war headdress and carries a bow and arrow.
The codex-style footpath reappears below, this time set across a conventionalized "water mountain"—a place glyph that may reference Ixmiquilpan, or possibly even Aztec Tenochtitlan itself.
The partially erased lunette mural on the north wall echoes the left hand escudo of the facade: here, the eagle, wings outstretched, again perches on a now largely erased place glyph. Speech or arrow scrolls issue from his beak towards the two now faceless jaguars with plumed headdresses standing to either side, along with prominent candelabra cactus. The battle unfolds beneath.
The Apsidal Eagle
Of special interest is a third, smaller scale image of an eagle warrior almost lost in the rib vault above the apsidal arch.  Apparently overlooking the battle raging along the walls below, 
the warrior is again extravagantly plumed and in full battle regalia, with breast plate and banner, standing atop another place glyph and vigorously calling down in a variety of powerful speech. 
   While for the friars, if they were aware of it, this figure might symbolize the Archangel Michael—patron saint of Ixmiquilpan, whose image appears nowhere else in the church—leading the heavenly host in their victory over Satan's forces, for the native audience however, it might rather have commemorated the military triumphs and splendor of the lost Aztec empire, of which Ixmiquilpan was an important tributary outpost and ally.
   In our next post we will consider the celebrated battle friezes themselves.

* ABEL-TURBY, Mickey, “The New World Augustinians and Franciscans in Philosophical Opposition: The Visual Statement”, Colonial Latin American Review, 1996, vol. 5: 1
ALBORNOZ BUENO, Alicia, La memoria del olvido. Glifos y murales de la iglesia de San Miguel Arcángel Ixmiquilpan Hidalgo: Teopan dedicado a Tezcatlipoca, Pachuca, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, 1994. 
ESTRADA DE GERLERO, Elena, “El friso monumental de Itzmiquilpan”, Actes du XLII Congrès International des Américanistes, Paris, 2-9 September, 1976.
FRASER, Valerie, “Ixmiquilpan: from European ornament to Mexican pictograph”, Altars and Idols: the life of the dead in Mexico, M.A. Gallery Studies catalogue, University of Essex, 1991, 
NYE, Harriet, “The Talking Murals of Ixmiquilpan”, Mexico Quarterly Re- view, 1968, vol. 3: 2,
PIERCE, Donna L., “Identification of the Warriors in the Frescoes of Ixmiquilpan”, Research Center for the Arts and Humanities Review, 1981, vol. 4: 4, October, p. 1-8.
text and graphics © 1992 & 2017 Richard D. Perry.
color photography by the author and Niccolo Brooker. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ixmiquilpan. The Sacristy murals 2

In our previous post on the Passion murals of Ixmiquilpan, we noted the unusual number of rare, post Resurrection scenes in the sacristy, focusing on the unique fresco of the Noli Me Tangere biblical episode.
    On this page we look at three other post-Resurrection events illustrated in the sacristy mural cycle: The Ascension; Pentecost, and Christ's appearance to the Apostles (Doubting Thomas.) All three frescoes, drawn from Flemish prints, are skillfully delineated in warm monochrome, accented with turquoise and burgundy tinted details.
The Incredulity of Thomas
Christ's appearance to the Apostles (#10)
Shortly after Jesus revealed himself to the Apostles after the Resurrection, when Thomas joined the group he expressed skepticism about Christ's appearance, refusing to believe until he could actually see and touch the wounds received on the cross.
   According to tradition, Thomas then touched the wound on Jesus' side and became a believer. This episode, infrequently illustrated, contains a cautionary message. In Jesus' words, " Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: but blessed are they that have not seen, and still believe".
   The wide eyed figures are compressed into a narrow frame, which heightens the sense of drama. The distinctive regional geological feature of Los Frailes appears in the landscape. 
  Apart from a partial depiction at Tepetlaoxtoc, portrayal of this scene at Ixmiquilpan is thought to be unique among surviving early Mexican monastic murals.
The Ascension of Christ (details)
The Ascension (#11)
This more commonly portrayed event, which took place 40 days following the Resurrection, marked the transition of Jesus from the earthly realm to that of God. 
   In these literal details from the mural, the Virgin Mary kneels in prayer among the gathered Apostles to witness the physical ascension. Christ's footprints are imprinted on the hillside behind and his lower body can be glimpsed as he rises into the celestial clouds.
Pentecost (#12)
Taking place fifty days after Easter, this biblical episode commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles while they were in Jerusalem for the Jewish feast of Pentecost, believed to signify the beginning of evangelical Christianity.
Once again the Mother of Jesus occupies center stage as the rays of the Holy Spirit descend upon the awed group of bearded Apostles.

text © 2017 Richard D. Perry
color images by the author and courtesy of Niccolò Brooker

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Ixmiquilpan. The Sacristy murals: Noli me Tangere

In a previous post we examined the Last Judgment mural in the cloister at Ixmiquilpan. Among the highest quality frescoes in the convento are the largely monochrome murals that line the church sacristy, formerly part of the friar's chapel and adjacent chambers. 
Devoted to murals depicting Christ’s Passion, they are generally conventional in iconography and style, based on Renaissance prints and similar to many other 16th century murals in the region. 
The actors portrayed in the various scenes in this long cycle are exceptionally expressive, with much background incident and landscape detail. 
In this post we focus on one of the most unusual of the frescoes, that of the Noli Me Tangere scene, one of four post Resurrection scenes portrayed—a rare conjunction in early monastic murals. 
   This episode, recounted only in St. John’s Gospel, concerns the first appearance of the resurrected Christ, to St. Mary Magdalene:
"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.' 
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbouni!' Jesus said to her, 'Do not touch me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord'."
This biblical subject was popular among prominent European painters, from Giotto and Fra Angelico to Titian and Michelangelo, and there were numerous graphic versions, notably from northern European printmakers.
While clearly based on a graphic model, the precise source of this fresco is so far unidentified. The best known example and closest to the Ixmiquilpan fresco in composition is the 1510 engraving by Albrecht Dürer, part of his Small Passion series.
   The most intriguing aspects of this mural, apart from its uncommon subject matter, are first of all the central figures, and second, the background details.

There are significant differences from the Dürer version, notably in the figure of Christ, who instead of holding out one hand in warning towards Mary Magdalene—the traditional and almost universal pictorial pose—here holds two garden implements, one in each hand, with no "warning off" gesture. Neither hand shows the stigmata. 
    In addition, while kneeling, as was customary, Mary holds her hands in prayer instead of extending them towards Jesus. Both of these elements tend to deemphasize the critical moment of recognition and attempted personal contact, instead of dramatizing it as might be expected. And Mary is shown without her usual jar of ointment, further depersonalizing her and downplaying the emotional power of the scene. A curiously detached portrayal.
The landscape surrounding the encounter is especially varied and detailed. Carefully drawn native plants dot the foreground and rabbits nibble contentedly on the left below the hill of Golgotha with three crosses and browsing animals. 
   A gridded field occupies the middle ground along with an unusual, structurally detailed tower, mounted on a high, square base and prominently accented in turquoise and rusty hues—probably a specific monument. A church, a turreted city—presumably Jerusalem—and an aqueduct or bridge rise beyond.
   As in other sacristy murals at Ixmiquilpan, rocky hills and outcroppings appear in the landscape, some clearly of local significance and possibly referring to Los Frailes, a distinctive topographical feature near neighboring Actopan.

text and color images © 2015/2017 Richard D. Perry

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Totolapan: The Miraculous Draft of Fishes

In our previous post we described a unique but puzzling mural in the entry vestibule of the convento at San Guillermo Totolapan. For this post we look at another unique but poorly preserved mural.
The Cloister murals
Once painted wall to wall—and ceiling too—with 16th century murals, much of this early cloister mural art has been lost and what remains is in fair to terrible condition. While some of the arcade portraits have been partially restored, the larger frescoes along the walks has been lost.
   A few now fragmentary and in some cases barely identifiable murals subsist in the lunettes above the end walls, which is unfortunate, since they reveal both skilled draftsmanship and unusual subject matter. Painted for the most part in charcoal tones  they include a Crucifixion and a portrait of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine. Two others are of special interest:
The Miraculous Draft of Fishes  
This damaged, polychrome fresco illustrates a miracle as recorded in the Gospel of St. John, in which Jesus appears on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection.
   Several of the disciples are fishing but catch nothing. Then Jesus, unrecognized, tells them to cast their net on the other side of the boat, after which they haul in a large quantity of fish.  At this point the apostles then recognize Jesus and, by tradition, St. Peter leaps into the water to greet his risen Lord—a detail that is either obscured or missing in this fresco.
Jesus by the water
Otherwise, the details follow most classic portrayals of the scene: Jesus stands on the shore to one side, while the apostles sit in their (red) fishing boat on the other. Buildings flank the far shore of the lake while waterfowl strut along in the foreground. No net is clearly shown here, although wear and tear of the mural and the later? cutting in of a doorway may obscure this element. 
   To our knowledge, this portrayal of a celebrated scene in the life of Christ is unique in early Mexican mural art.

Illustrated on another lunette is what appears to be a related, post Resurrection scene, that of Peter meeting Jesus on the Appian Way (aka Quo Vadis)—if so, also a portrayal of this apocryphal episode  in early Mexican mural art.
Note: the church was badly damaged during the 9/19 Mexican earthquake. No word yet on the fate of the many valuable murals there. Stay tuned.
text ©2017 Richard D. Perry
color images by Niccolo Brooker and Robert Jackson

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Totolapan: El Cristo Aparecido mural?

This is the first of two posts on the early murals of San Guillermo Totolapan,* the second Augustinian house to be established in Mexico, founded in 1534 by Fr. Jorge de Avila, the “Apostle of Hidalgo.” 
   The church and the community are probably best known for their venerable 16th century crucifix, El Cristo Aparecido de Totolapan, brought here, according to legend, by an angel during the priorate of Fray Antonio de Roa, another celebrated Augustinian missionary.
The plain 16th century church front was replaced in the 1700s when its severity was softened by the more elegant lines of a lofty west porch, rose window and undulating espadaña. The portería, long bricked up, has been reopened giving access to the cloister.
The Murals
As at Tlayacapan, 16th century frescoes once covered virtually every surface inside the convento. They 
combine biblical scenes with ecclesiastical portraits, drawn in warm grisaille with a variety of subdued color washes and accents.
 Although they are now much deteriorated, the surviving fragments still manage to convey some of the original sweep of the mural program and its excellent draftsmanship.
The Vestibule (anteportería)
One ambiguous fresco in this area, currently in poor condition, presents a complex scene with trees, buildings, crucifixes and figures, including friars and Indians, rendered in a dark monochrome leavened by ocher and orange details.

While the subject is unclear, intriguingly, it may refer to the miraculous origin of the famous local crucifix, possibly depicting Fray Antonio de Roa, on the left, facing a white robed, aquarian figure lit by a heavenly beam. 
the mural inscription (detail)
The remnant inscription in the upper left of the scene, which refers in part to Augustinian martyrs, may better clarify the subject of this distinctive fresco when restored.
Comments welcome!
* Note: the church was badly damaged during the 9/19 Mexican earthquake. No word yet on the fate of the many valuable murals there. Stay tuned.
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry
images courtesy of Robert Jackson and Niccolo Brooker

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tlayacapan: Three more early murals

In a previous post on the extensive Tlayacapan murals, we looked at an unusual triptych in the former anteporteria of the convento.
   In this follow up post on other murals there we start with another unusual mural on the north wall in this same area, also conceived in the form of a triptych.
In the center panel the Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven holds the Christ Child, who gestures towards the mitered St. Augustine beside him. Augustine holds his traditional bishop's crozier and a (flaming?) heart. Mary is flanked by her parents, Saints Joachim and Anne, portrayed life size in painted niches on either side. 
   Although in poor condition, this monochrome mural skillfully  accentuates the detailed contours of the costumes and draperies of the figures, based on a northern European print source.
Two Crucifixion scenes
The first mural is set in the lunette above the entry to the Sala de Profundis inside the convento. Christ on the cross is accompanied by the two thieves, Dismas and Gestas, tied to crosses on either side. Devils and angels hover over the pair.  
   A local landscape of trees and distinctive outcroppings is spread out behind, while the sun and moon shine in darkened sky above.  Saints Peter and Paul appear in painted shell niches on the inner archway of the entry.
   In contrast to the boldly drawn outlines of the earlier triptych, the figures here are more softly molded, and shaded in a warmer tones, with the crosses accented in a now faded red.
A second Crucifixion also appears in a lunette on the end wall of the convento museum, the former refectory. Here, the crucified Christ is alone, although curiously observed by kneeling saints on either side partially hidden behind trees—possibly Peter and Paul again. Birds and animals cavort in the heavily wooded background. 
   And the treatment of the figures is closer to the earlier triptych in style, with an emphasis on sharper outlines and realistic details of foliage, etc.
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry
images by the author and ©Robert Jackson

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