Our Lady of Guadalupe

Sebastian Salcedo, Virgin of Guadalupe, 1779. Oil on copper panel, Denver Art Museum, Denver.

Salcedo's central image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is surrounded by elaborate vignettes telling the story of how she appeared to Juan Diego. At the bottom left is Pope Benedict XIV, who in 1754 decreed Guadelupe to be the patroness of New Spain. The Pope’s raised hand hold the a sentence indicating that this image was one of the Guadalupe images for which the glass protecting the miraculous image on Juan Diego’s tilma was removed so that the reproduction could be brought into direct contact with the original, transmitting its special powers. This privilege was rare by the late eighteenth century and may have been granted because the work was destined for a fledgling shrine that would establish the Guadalupe’s following in the distant territory of New Mexico. Opposite the Pope is an indigenous woman, with a feathered crown and an obsidian sword, posing with the heraldic shield of Mexico. The Pope and the woman are the same size and suggest a melding of cultures in New Spain. At the bottom center there is a view of the sanctuary that houses the tilma image, on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City.
The artist Salcedo was active in a thriving market for small devotional images made for export as well as local consumption. It seems likely that this work was commissioned by a Santa Fe merchant José Antonio Ortiz, who was a major benefactor of Santa Fe churches, including the Sanctuary of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico.

a site with religious significance

short literary piece

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