New Mexican Retablo by Jose Aragon

Item: 1116

Origin: New Mexico by Jose Aragon
Date: Circa 1830

Media: Pine wood with water based paints

Dimensions: 13.5″ x 10.75″ x .75″

Description: This retablo presents Saint Cayetano (1480-1540) in front of the  cross. The power of this retablo is the cross fronted by the saint with little else in the picture other than the ground and side shrubs. Saint Cayetano is credited with establishing pawn shops in Naples that were designed to help, not exploit, the customers.  He wears the black habit of the Theatrines.  The jeweled red necklace he wears might be a reference to the pawn shops he founded.  In New Mexico, he is considered the patron saint of gamblers.  Some petitioners try to entice him with the promise of a votive candle or the recitation of a rosary if he would grant their request (L. Frank 2001:518).

The back has a candle burn mark in the center of the board. It has been reported that a retablo might be burnt, with the purpose of scratching off some of the charcoal to be mixed with fluid then drank to absorb the faithful powers of the saint.  With the burning showing up in the center of the back, and not along the edges as one would find from a candle, I feel like this burning is likely attributed to this practice.

This retablo has a rich patina, likely augmented at some time with either a light covering of wax or shellac.

Condition:   Wear and age to the board with no visible restoration other than a possible wax or shellac covering some time ago.

Price: 4800