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La Sainte Famille

La Sainte Famille

Translation:The Holy Family
Artist: Nicolas Mignard (French, 1606 - 1668)
Date: 1659
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Image: 36 5/8 × 44 1/4 in. (93 × 112.4 cm)
Frame: 46 1/4 × 53 7/8 × 2 11/16 in. (117.5 × 136.8 × 6.8 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of Benedict A. Silverman and Allan S. Frank, 1981
Keywords and Associated Locations:
Object number: 1980.23
Description
In 1659, Nicolas Mignard (1606—1668) painted La Sainte Famille (The Holy Family) in Avignon, France, visible in the background of the painting. As Mary, Joseph, the Infant Jesus and John the Baptiste turn towards each other, their bodies form a pyramid which embodies the Classical style. The light breaks from behind the clouds and suffuses the painting with a warm glow, accenting the brilliant colors of the robes. The idealized features of the holy family are found in many of the Spanish colonial paintings which eventually came to New Mexico. It is interesting to compare the historical events surrounding this painting in France with the concurrent historical events in New Mexico where the painting now resides. Nicolas Mignard was a member of the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. France was the center of taste and fashion in 17th century Europe. The Classic Style - calculated, formal and elegant - was favored both by the Court and by the Catholic Church. The power of the ecclesiastical establishment in France was demonstrated by Cardinal Richelieu, who advised Louis XIII and Louis XIV. The Church and State worked together in France. The favored painters, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorraine, and Pierre and Nicolas Mignard, used their skills to reinforce the grandeur and stability of those institutions. The alliance of Church and State in colonial New Mexico was fragmented. At the date of this painting, 1659, Spain’s poorest Northern colony was in the midst of crisis culminating in the Pueblo Rebellion of 1680. The Spanish Inquisition which was strong in Mexico provided an outlet for the various grievances which Church and civil authorities had against one another. In 1657, the Viceroy of Mexico approved for New Mexico twenty additional Franciscan missionaries and a new provincial governor, Don Bernardo Lopez de Mendizábal, who took office in 1659. At the same time three important churches were begun: Nuestra Señora de Halona (Zuni), San Buenaventura de las Humanas (Gran Quivera), Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe del Paso del Rio del Norte (El Paso, Texas). Mendizábal was governor for two years before he was brought before the Inquisition with thirty three charges against him. These included allowing the Indians to dance the katchinas, persecuting missionaries, and having improper relations with his female Apache servants. He was replaced by Don Diego Dioniso de Peñalosa Briceño y Berdigo who also appeared before the Inquisition, was convicted and exiled to Europe. Peñalosa went to France, appealed to Louis XIV for money to sponsor an expedition to the Southern United States, and expedition ultimately undertaken by La Salle. While Peñalosa was governor of New Mexico there was a time of relative peace in the colony.
Not on view
Publication and Exhibition History: Summer 1979: Nicolas Mignard retrospective, Le Palais de Papes (The Papal Palace)