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Female Figure of Saint

Origin New Mexico
Title Female Figure of Saint (Bulto)
Date Mid 19th–early 20th century
Medium Wood, pigment, and and tin
Dimensions Object: 22 1/4 × 6 × 5 in. (56.5 × 15.2 × 12.7 cm)
Overall: 22 1/4 × 6 × 5 in. (56.5 × 15.2 × 12.7 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Hope, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 61.22

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About this Work

Spanish colonialism brought Christianity to the American Southwest and used art as one of its main teaching tools when attempting to convert Native Americas. Saint Figures, or Santos Figures, such as this example from New Mexico have two main types: bultos, which are three-dimensional sculptures and retablos which are paintings of saints. Saint Figures were used in religious ceremonies, for teaching, and as devotional images in both churches and private chapels.

Objects such as this one were originally imported before the local community began to make them, usually from local wood and with a combination of imported and local paints. These artists were typically self-taught and would use their own preferences and cultural history to build upon the Spanish and Mexican practices that already existed.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

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"Female Figure of Saint | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.