This statuette of an unknown monk or monk-saint comes from a Spanish colony in the Americas. Little is known about who the figure was supposed to represent, in part because it is missing any specific attribute—the object particular to saint or religious figure—that was normally held in its missing hands. Nevertheless, we can tell that this figure likely belonged to the Franciscan order, a Catholic religious order with members called friars, due to its haircut, often called a tonsure, and brown robes. This figure shows the connection between local artistic production and the large Christian missionary presence in the Americas in the eighteenth century.
Notice the figure’s eyes made of inlaid beads. How does this affect the way we view this object today? How might it have affected past viewers in religious or domestic settings?
Written by Carson Riggs ‘23
From the 2023 exhibition Faith and Empire: The Legacy of Conversion and Commerce in the Early Modern World, curated by students of ARTH 20.04, "Faith and Empire: Art in the Early Modern World" taught by Elizabeth Rice Mattison, Andrew W. Mellon Associate Curator of Academic Programming
ARTH 28.01, Global Renaissance, Elizabeth Kassler-Taub, Fall 2021
Art History 20.04, Faith and Empire, Beth Mattison, Spring 2023
Faith and Empire: The Legacy of Conversion and Commerce in the Early Modern World, Class of 1967 Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 12-December 23, 2023.
Collected by Harold Goddard Rugg (1883-1957, Class of 1906), Hanover, New Hampshire; given by his Estate to present collection, 1957.
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