Date: Sunday 11 November 2018 | 11am

Location: 6 Ralph Street, Alexandria NSW 2015

Santos are one of a number of religious art forms found in Spain and Portugal and countries colonized by the Spanish Empire. Icons and other religious images were helpful for the conversion of indigenous peoples to the Roman Catholic Church – an integral part of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

The practice of creating Santos began in Spain, where mannequin-style religious images were dressed in ornate clothing, often expensive, & funded by religious devotees. Ivory was often cited as the best and most elaborate material for Santos, now restricted or banned from sale. The earliest recorded Santo in the Philippines is a baptismal gift from 1521.

It is common to have a Santos repainted as part of a religious practice as wooden sculpture eventually deteriorates. Research often focuses on paint layers, as conservators, santeros, and the Church debate whether to remove paint, that represent the object’s history.

Santos remain a living tradition of religious iconography and folk art in The Philippines, Portugal, Mexico, Puerto Rico & some Caribbean Islands as well as South & Central America.

Santos makers worked in the European tradition of polychrome, painted wood sculpture. Typically, a santero carved and sanded a locally available wood to achieve the desired contour and expression. He then applied size, animal glue and gesso [chalk in animal glue] or gesso-soaked cloth to prepare the surface. Without gesso, paint would be absorbed into the wood, yielding less color.

All Saints Day is celebrated by most Western Christian Religions on 1 November. Santos from the Latin translates to sanctus meaning holy or saintly.

A Collection of Santos and Ecclesiastical Objects is being offered in the Art I Asian I Jewels I Objects

Auction, Sunday 11 November, 2018. 

Lynette Cunnington

October 2018

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