Mexico, ca. mid 19th century CE. A precisely and finely painted tin retablo of the Virgin Guadalupe, a praying Madonna, almost life sized with a tilted head and gently curving body, with hands pressed together in a prayerful gesture and lowered eyes. She is surrounded by a mandorla comprised of golden rays and stands upon a crescent moon that is supported by a cherub. Size: 5" W x 7" H.
This composition was adopted from medieval illustrations of the Apocalyptic Woman and may be traced back to the 10th and 11th centuries. Her garments, which never deviate, include a blue mantle with gold stars and trim and a red robe enriched with golden embroidery. In addition, the cherub with Byzantine like wings who appears beneath her is also a constant in renditions of the Virgin Guadalupe. Perforation at top center for suspension. For a similar example see Gifford's Mexican Folk Retablos, p. 52. According to Giffords, "In December 1531, the Virgin appeared to an Indian neophyte, Juan Diego. In a series of appearances to him, she stated her desire to have a church built upon the site of her appearance, the hill of Tepeyac, just outside the Mexican capital. Her wishes were fulfilled when Juan Diego presented a cloak full of roses that she had given him for the unbelieving bishop. The cloak appeared miraculously imprinted with her image. This tilma is presently in the basilica of Guadalupe, where it has been since it was transferred in 1709 from earlier chapels, and is the basis for any subsequent reproduction of N. S. de Guadalupe."