Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Oaxaca. Cuilapan: three cloister niches

For the second of our posts on the murals at Cuilapan, we look at the handsome painted niches in the cloister.
Cuilapan, the cloister
The Cloister murals
At one time, narrative murals may have filled the walls of the elegant cloister at Cuilapan. These have been erased or perhaps may even remain to be uncovered beneath the whitewash. 
  In any event, the only mural fragments now on view here are the elaborate painted borders surrounding three of the four corner testera niches. Partially restored to fair or good condition, they are designed in a broadly classical Flemish manner with ornamental baroque touches, and in common with most early monastic murals, outlined in warm gray or sepia and accented with subdued reds, blues and a variety of earth colors.
   Three of the four niches have retained their painted frames:
Niche 1.
Niche 1 pediment
Derived from early 16th century Spanish book frontispieces * two of the niches feature caryatid like figures emerging from plant swathed pilasters. Portraits of individual saints with other figures occupy the painted pediments.
Niche 2
Niche 2 pediment
Niche 3
Niche 3 pediment
*Graphic Sources: Jean de Vingles (1498 - ca. 1552) Title pages of Arte Subtilissima por la qual se enseña a escrevir perfectamente.  Published by Juan de Yciar Vizcayno (ca. 1522 - after 1572). First published under that title by Pedro Bernuz in Zaragoza in 1550. (1553 Edition. woodcut).
text © 2017 Richard D. Perry. images by the author, Niccolò Brooker, and PESSCA

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