Saturday, May 28, 2016

Great Masters of Painting, the San Carlos, Soumaya and Franz Mayer Museums, together.

The Museum of San Carlos, the Museum Franz Mayer, the Soumaya Museum (all three located in Mexico City) and the Carlos Slim Foundation decided to pool their resources and collections around a theme: the Kingdom of Forms, and share this experience with a wider audience, organizing exhibitions in several cities around Mexico.
It is quite uncommon to find so many paintings by major European Masters in one single exhibition in Mexico City, and completely unheard of at Museums in cities such as Querétaro,  Leon (Guanjuato), Tijuana, Monterrey and Torreón. However, this joint effort made it possible for thousands of art-fans, from all over the country, to see these great masterpieces for the first time in their native cities.
Adam and Eve, Lucas Cranach
the Elder, 1472-1553, Germany
Eve looks like she is hiding the
other apple from Adam.
The three participating museums lent 20 masterpieces each of Medieval, Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque Paintings for the Exhibition, from the 15th to the 18th Centuries, dealing with two themes: Religions Tradition and Daily Life (which included portraits and landscapes).
Museo de Arte de Querétaro,
hosted this beautiful collection
"The Kingdom of Form: Great
Masters". This Museum was
once the school of Theology and
Philosophy of the Augustinians
in Queretaro.
I visited the collection during its exhibition at the Museo de Arte in Querétaro in February, and I will share with you the pictures I believe are pertinent to the topic of the blog, that is, Faith in Art.

Adam and Eve, Lucas Cranach
the Elder

Adoration of the Child, Juan de
Castillo, 1590-1657, Spain.
This exhibition was a unique insight, an opportunity to travel through Europe, through 300 years, a divided Continent, a schism challenging the future of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, nurtured with the blood of its Martyrs.
The Virgin and Child with
Saints Francis, Lawrence,
 Catherine of Alexandria and 
Isabel of Hungary, 14th Century,
Tuscany, Italy
The message of the Gospels finds a medium, through the talents of these great masters of Painting, a medium by which millions in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Austria, Italy and Spain would form a better understanding of the History of Salvation, the Old Testament, Creation, the loss of Paradise, the trials of  the People of Israel,  the Birth of Christ and the lives of the Saints.
The Virgin and Child with Angels,
Maestro di San Miniato, 15th Century

The Adoration of the Magi, Matias de Arteaga y
Alfaro, 1633-1703, Seville, Spain. Matias de
Arteaga was strongly influenced by Murillo,
and he probably worked in Murillo's shop in

The Legend of Mary Magdalene,
1515, Brussels, Belgium 

Saint Hippolytus blessing his family
after the death of Saint Lawrence,

Saint John Evangelist,
Alonso Cano, 1601-1667.
Granada, Spain
Saint John Evangelist giving
Holy Communion to the
Blessed Virgin,
Alonso Cano, 1601-1667.
Granada, Spain

The Resurrection of Lazarus,
15th Century, Flanders.

The Adoration of the Child,
Bartholomew Bruin, the Elder,
(1493-1555), Koln, Germany
The Burial of Christ,
Carved wood, Flanders.
15th Century.

Martyrdom of Saint
Adrian, Lambert Lombard
 (1505-1566) Belgium

Saint Agatha, Andrea Vaccaro (1598-
1670), Naples, Italy

An Angel appears to Saint Francis of
Assisi, Sebastian Gomez El Mulato ,
(1646-1682), Seville, Spain

Saint Francis of Assisi receiving the Holy Stigmata,
with Brother Leon, Francisco de Zurbaran,
(1598-1664), Madrid, Spain

Saint Gregory the Great, Andrea
Vaccaro (1598-1670), Naples

Saint Augustine, Francisco
de Zurbaran (1598-1664),
Madrid, Spain

Saint Isabel of Hungary
giving alms to the poor,
David Gran (1694-1737),

Creation of Adam, Jan Brueghel, the Younger,
(1601-1678), Ambers

Adam names the animals, Jan Brueghel,
the Younger, (1601-1678), Ambers
Temptation of Eve, Jan Brueghel, the Younger,
(1601-1678), Ambers

Expulsion from Paradise, Jan Brueghel,
the Younger, (1601-1678), Ambers

The Rapture of Europa, Bernardo Llorente Germán,
(1680-1759), Seville, Spain

The Rapture of Amphitrite, Bernardo Llorente
Germán, (1680-1759), Seville, Spain

Judith and the Head of Helofernes,
Paolo Caliari, the Veronese, (1528-1588)

The Daughters of Lot,
Paolo Caliari, the Veronese, (1528-1588)

The Triumph of the Church, Jan Ijkens, (1613-
1679), Ambers
Many of these masterpieces had an incalculable impact on the culture, the faith and the art in La Nueva España.
Three Angels,
Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-1682)
Seville, Spain
No better a way to finish a visit of Arte Sacra, then with a view of Heavenly Angels, thanks to the great Spanish master of masters of Baroque Art: Bartholomé Esteban Murillo.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Former Carmelite Monastery Desierto de los Leones, Mexico City

Not long after the first Carmelites came to Mexico City, and built their missions in the center of the center, and then in San Angel, did they feel the need to escape the noise of the metropolis in search of their original calling or vocation, that of the life in hermitages, which impelled them to build the first of these in a large pine forest on the southwest side of the city, in an area known as the Desierto de los Leones.
The domes of the chapels peep out
from the seclusion of the Monastery walls
as we approach the sanctuary hided in the pine
forests of the Desierto de los Leones
Nowadays, residents think of the Desierto de los Leones as a delightful place to visit on the weekend and go out on the many mountain bike trails throughout the park. Others remember this site, and specifically the peak of Cruz Blanca, where at a very early stage of the war of Independence, Morelos and Hidalgo decimated the Spanish Army, that retreated them back into Mexico City.
Washroom of former Monastery

The Carmelites, under the guidance of Fray Angel de San Miguel, their fellow monk and architect, began construction of the first set of hermitages and monastery in the Desierto de los Leones, at the beginning of the 17th Century.

By a Presidential decree in 1917, the Desierto de Los Leones became Mexico's first national park.


Along this corridor, there
were several cells for the
Carmelite Monks

Passageway leading to the

Sacristy in dire need of

On the bottom of the walls, decorative art, typical
of the Carmelites.


Chapel Dome with four windows, different from
typical Octagonal domes in larger chapels and

Kitchen of the Monastery
Refectory of the Monastery

Turntable window connecting kitchen with
refectory. With this device, food could be taken
warm and quickly into the refectory, without
allowing the smoke and noise of the kitchen to
disrupt the silence of the dinner service.

Lectern for reading during
meals. Usually the readings
during meals were not from
Holy Scripture, but rather
lives of the Saints or
books such as the Imitation
of Christ, by Thomas
 A Kempis.

The only monks still here
are made out of wood.

Fireplace in area of the former monastery now
used as a restaurant for visitors of the museum


Ermita de la Soledad or Hermitage of Loneliness

The Ermitas or Hermitages
are outside the walls of the
Monastery compound, in the
forests, and exposed to abuse
and graffiti.
The Hermita de la Trinidad
or Trinity Hermitage is larger
than the Soledad Hermitage,
but more dilapidated.

A balcony on the 2nd floor of the Hermita de la

Hermitage of the Blessed Trinity

Inside courtyard within one of the hermitages

La Capilla de los Secretos or Chapel of Secrets
was a common feature in Carmelite
constructions in la Nueña España
(for example, Chimalistac, San Angel, Mexico City)
Why the name? Desierto de los Leones. Most people believe that years ago there were Lions here in the forest, but the more probably explanation is that the chief that owned this land originally belong to the Leon family, a common surname in Spanish. As per "Desierto", the term didn't necessarily refer to a habitat with sand dunes, oasis and camels, but to any place far from civilization.
A view of the chapel buildings from the former
orchard, now cypress tree garden, with its
Chapel of Secrets.
A Chapel of Secrets? Does this sound mysterious? I apologize if I am giving you the wrong impression. Some of the chapels and other constructions built by the Carmelites had such wonderful acoustics, that everything whispered  in one corner, can be heard in the opposite corner. As time went by, fun-loving or mischievous monks would use this as an excuse to talk to each other during periods of obligatory silence.