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2 Nichos, Sacred Heart and St. George

Price: $695.00
Era: early 20th century
Origin: Mexico
Artist: unknown
Condition: very good
Dimensions: 16in x 11in x 3in

Architectural tin frames with pediments and crosses as well as semicircular and triangular shapes on the top with columns separated from the main part of the frames. The pediments and the bases of the frames are painted in a green with dots. One frame contains a chromolithograph of the Sacred Heart of Mary and the other has a print of St. George. These are both surrounded by paper flowers. Both have a small print of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the center of the pediments.

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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