Crosses from Mexico

Crosses from Mexico
Circa 18th -19th century
Wood, polychome, gesso, glass

These crosses and crucifixes, crafted in Mexico, are among a collection of twelve. Most are carved from wood and are painted, while several are fitted with luminous glass panel inserts.

Painted crosses were a popular item placed on home altars in Mexico in the 18th and 19th centuries. The cross, painted green, signifies the promise of new life though the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. During this time of evangelization, European missionaries carried with them various images of Christian iconography and religious concepts, which served as models for local artists.

The symbols of the Passion and Christ’s suffering are clearly evident in this varied group of freestanding crosses by largely unknown Mexican artists. Only one small crucifix displays the three-dimensional form of Christ’s spiritless body. Many of the others display vivid symbols of the Passion of Christ, among them: the veil of Veronica; the ladder used to take down Christ’s body from the cross; the cock that crowed three times upon Peter’s denial; instruments of torture; the wine-soaked sponge; the dice used by Roman soldiers to cast lots for Jesus’ clothing; the nails and other related iconic symbols.