New Mexico Art Tells its History

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Our Lady of Mount Carmel/ Nuestra Señora del Carmen, ca. 1880s
Attr. to José Benito Ortega (1858-1941)
gesso and water-based pigments on wood
18-1/2  x 11-1/2 in.
Museum of International Folk Art

This traditional hand carved retablo was made by Jose Benito Ortega in the 1880s. Ortega was one of the last practitioners of handmade religious art, and he stopped carving in 1907. Handmade items were being replaced by plaster casts of saints and steel engravings at this time, and they had also been removed from churches by Bishop Lamy . In the 1920s, the Spanish Colonial Arts Society brought back the hand carved retablo, among other folk crafts, and today there are still traditional craftsman making hand carved retablos in New Mexico.

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