María Izquierdo

Viernes de Dolores, 1944 - 45

Oleo / tela
76 x 60.5 cm

Viernes de Dolores depicts an altar constructed for the holiday commemorating the seven sorrows of the Virgin, which is held one week before Good Friday. Izquierdo was clearly fascinated by the aesthetic beauty of these traditional altars, and she painted a number of similar scenes between 1943 and 1946, each with a different image of the Virgin and a distinct composition of related objects. Izquierdo is not known to have made altars for Viernes de Dolores in her own home, and instead appears to have based her compositions on a combination of the altars she had seen throughout the years and her own creative imagination. Although the Virgen de los Dolores is traditionally robed in purple and such altars often follow a color scheme of purple and gold, Viernes de Dolores instead uses the complex combination of bright colors that defined Izquierdo's palette in the 1940s. The painting depicts common offerings, including sprouting wheat in painted ceramic bowls, flowers, candles, and oranges speared with small flags of papel picado. Sheer white lace curtains serve as a frame for both the altar and the painting as a whole, creating an elaborate yet ambiguous construction of space also found in Izquierdo's alacena paintings from these years (Blaisten collection). By pushing the altar into the foreground instead of depicting worshippers, Izquierdo creates a private space into which the viewer enters and participates. This trompe l'oeil effect also draws upon the traditions of ex-voto paintings which copied revered holy statues surrounded by candles and flowers in their church niches, and which allowed patrons to carry away a painted replica to place in their own home. Izquierdo greatly admired such paintings, but it should be stressed that Izquierdo's altar paintings differ due to their ironic, modern consciousness. Izquierdo's Altar de Dolores paintings were very well-received in the 1940s, and collectors included Izquierdo's friends, art dealer María Asúnsolo and poet Elias Nandino.

Terri Geis, Arte Moderno de México. Colección Andrés Blaisten, Mexico, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

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