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Antique Tin Nicho with All Seeing Eye of God Chromolithograph

Price: $285.00
Era: early 19th century
Origin: Mexico
Artist: unknown
Condition: excellent
Dimensions: 13in x 10in x 1in

The omnipresent eye of God keeps watch over some of man's many transgressions in this 19th century European chromolithograph. The print is adorned with paper flowers, secured into place at the time that the shadow box was sealed. The tinwork is charmingly naïve, with a serrated lunette and simple side scroll appendages that appear to have been attached after the piece's original construction. The condition of the piece, with areas of heavy oxidation visible on the surface of the tin, is consistent with its age.

Decorative tinwork flourished in the mid 19th to early 20th century in Mexico, playing a very important role in its religious folk arts.  Although tinplate was easily worked and very inexpensive (it was termed the poor man´s silver), it came into widespread use only very gradually.  Its light weight allowed tinsmiths to fabricate items for processions and make things for the more humble churches and eventually for home altars.  As the carvers of religious images and the painters on tin retablos declined, the tradition of private devotion continued. Lithography replaced these painted retablos and the nicho for home altars became a mixed media expression of Roman Catholicism, mestizo spirituality and popular culture.  Made to exhibit and protect the fragile devotional engravings and lithographs arriving from Europe, they were distributed in local markets, fairs and pilgrimage sites. The techniques used to make them were cutting, piercing, repousee or embossing, scoring and soldering. The main elements were square, round or fan shaped corner bosses, different shaped lunettes or pediments with finials and flanges or ears attached to the sides.  Sometimes engaged columns were added.  The original glass often contained irregularities such as inclusions, air bubbles or press marks.  The vertical and horizontal glass panels were colorfully painted or decorated with reverse painting on glass(with oil paints) in the combed technique or with painted flowers both backed with paper, wallpaper or tin foil.  Paper, tin foil or cloth flowers, as well as milagros, prayer cards and other decorative items, were often placed inside of the nicho.

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