Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Oaxtepec: The Dancing Cherubs

In our previous post on the refectory murals at Oaxtepec, we mentioned the innovative, integrated design elements of the austere church interior, skillfully fashioned from locally quarried warm gray limestone.
The cruciform plan, the arcading along the nave, the running cornices with giant corbels from which spring the soaring Gothic vaults—all were unusual features for this period in Mexico (mid-1500s).
Although otherwise lacking in visible mural decoration, traces of a 17th or early 18th century painted polychrome ceiling have survived in the left transept. 
The charming main fresco shows naked, curly headed, winged cherubs with expressive faces dancing in a circle with rosaries, accompanied by angels playing lutes and violins.

A second, smaller mural by the same accomplished artist depicts the dove of the Holy Spirit ringed by realistically painted, winged angels’ heads.
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry. images by Niccolò Brooker

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