Monday, April 16, 2007

New Retablo for California Mission

Take a look at this photo: NEW RETABLO ~ MISSION BASILICA SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, of an amazing new altar at one of the California missions.

And more information:
While developing the project, the designers of Talleres de Arte Granda researched the great retablos in Spain that had the most influence on the transmission of the style to Latin America. These include the retablos in the Church of Santa Ana in Seville; the Convent of the Holy Spirit in Seville; the Church of Santo Domingo in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; the Chapel of Santa Tecla in the Cathedral of Burgos; and the Church of San Esteban in Salamanca. The last two of these were designed by the original Churriguerra workshop.

The new retablo is approximately 44 feet tall, 29 feet wide and 5 feet deep, and weighs 16 tons. It was fashioned in the Talleres de Arte Granda workshops in Alcalá de Henares by 85 artists and craftsmen, including designers, carpenters, sculptors, painters, gilders and metalsmiths. Aided by the best technology in engineering, chemistry and machining, the artisans were able to complete in 14 months a work of art that might have taken 18 years to build in the 18th century. The retablo was shipped from Spain to California in over 100 crates, and constructed by a team of six artisans over a period of three weeks. It was bolted to a frame of steel beams that project 14 feet underground, securing it from potential damage by earthquake.
The columns are helical, following a shape believed to imitate the great pillars Booz and Jachin in the First Temple of Jerusalem. This form was revived in Baroque Rome, most notably in the baldacchino in St. Peter's Basilica designed by Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. The solomonic column became an indispensable element of the Churrigueresque style. Like the columns on the Golden Altar of the Serra Chapel, those on the new retablo are festooned with grapevines, an appropriately Eucharistic symbol. The famous migratory cliff swallows that nest in the ruins of the Great Stone Church have been added to the decorative scheme. The columns are surmounted by Corinthian capitols. Despite their profuse ornamentation that is unlike anything in classical architecture, their proportions are those of the ancient order.
The statues of two blesseds who were raised to the altars in recent decades and whose cults of devotion were unknown in the 17th and 18th centuries immediately identify the new retablo as a contemporary work of art; their inclusion however is in the tradition of historic mission iconography. Despite embodying a spiritual return to ancient Christian tradition, the art of the missions was no exercise in anachronism. The artists of the mission era exhibited a surprising catholicity and currency in their choice of iconographic subjects, including many recent heroes of the Jesuit and Franciscan orders responsible for the evangelization of the New World.

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