Thursday, October 25, 2018

José Joaquin Magón, pintor poblano: El Carmen 1.

In recent posts on this blog we have looked at colonial artists in the Puebla region, members of a distinctive school of painting, several of whom were of humble origins—either mixed race or from an indigenous background.
   These included Miguel de Mendoza, Gregorio José de Lara and Pascual Pérez, and demonstrate that racial or social prejudices often came second to talent in the artistic milieu. 
In this new series we consider the life and selected works of another notable pintor poblano of lowly origins and great accomplishment, José Joaquín Magón, also known as a poet. Sometimes referred to as a mulato, or Afro-Mestizo, he was a member of the mixed race “casta militia” known as El Regimiento de Pardos—whose membership was often a path to greater social acceptance for artisans and others of mixed race.

While other details of his life are sparse, we know that he was born in Puebla and was active as a painter between 1740 and 1763. His busy workshop was a training ground for other promising poblano painters. Although the majority of his paintings are found in the Puebla area, others are located further afield in Mexico and even Spain.
   Magón worked in a number of genres including the popular casta paintings of the period, but much of his oeuvre was under commission from the religious orders, most notably the Carmelites.

We start our series on Magón with his commissions for the Carmelite Order.

A majority of his paintings for the Carmelites rest in the Order's complex in the city of Puebla: El Protomonasterio de las Carmelitas Descalzas de San José y Santa Teresa, commonly known as El Carmen.  These include large works in praise of the Order and its co-founder St Teresa of Avila.
Puebla Cathedral sacristy
Entitled Allegory of the patronage of the Virgin and St. Joseph of the Carmelite monastery in Puebla it includes a portrait of the Bishop Pantaleón Álvarez Abreu (circled) a prominent patron of the artist.
Magón's large canvas portraying the Carmelite Doctors, martyrs and confessors hangs in the city parish church of El Sagrario.
Another vast panel glorifying the Order rests in the Carmelite church museum of San Angel in Mexico City. This painting includes portraits of the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha, who by tradition appeared with St Teresa as spiritual founders of the Order—a tradition viewed as heretical by the Jesuits, the great rivals of the Carmelites, and others.*
   Several other cycles of paintings by Magón are found in the city Carmelite churches, including Passion scenes and a sequence on the life of St. John of the Cross, another Carmelite co-founder, which we look at in our next post.
   It should be noted that Magón's paintings relating to Carmelite history and personages were seen as a form of propaganda and may be viewed as creating an essential narrative for the Order in their struggle for legitimacy against the Jesuits and others.
text © 2018 Richard D. Perry
color images from internet sources
* This controversy and its role in the painter's work has been explored in the recent book, “El pincel de Elías, José Joaquín Magón y la orden de Nuestra Señora del Carmen” by the Mexican art historian Alejandro Andrade Campos.
Text © 2018 Richard D. Perry
color images from online sources

No comments:

Post a Comment