Mexican, Atlixco - Tiles from the Church of San Agustin, Atlixco, Puebla, 17th century

Mexican, Atlixco

Tiles from the Church of San Agustin, Atlixco, Puebla, 17th century

Glazed terracotta, 13 x 13 cm (5 1/8 x 5 1/8 in.) each

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Object details

Accession number

C7w14.1-9

Provenance

Probably made for the Church of San Agustin, Atlixco, State of Puebla, Mexico, built between 1589–1698.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the Church of San Agustin, Atlixco through the artist Dodge MacKnight (1860–1950) in 1909 for $818 (for the set).

Bibliography

Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), pp. 50-51.
Ronald Hilton. Handbook of Hispanic Source Materials and Research Organizations in the United States (Stanford, California, 1956), p. 194.
Corinna Lindon Smith. Interesting People: Eighty Years with the Great and Near-Great (Norman, OK, 1962), p. 168.
William N. Mason. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 6, no. 21 (20 Jan. 1963), p. 2.
Clara Strauss. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 8, no. 28 (14 Mar. 1965), p. 2.
Karen E. Haas. "Dodge Macknight -- painting the town red and violet..." Fenway Court (1982), p. 43.


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Commentary


These brightly painted and glazed tiles are examples of ceramics broadly known as Talavera, produced in the Puebla region of central Mexico. These ceramics emerged after Spanish colonizers arrived in the region during the sixteenth century. In the wake of the establishment of imperial rule, Spaniards familiar with the process of making tin-glazed earthenware began to settle in Puebla. Local craftspeople learned these methods and Talavera developed as a blend of indigenous Mexican imagery with Spanish methods and motifs. Many ceramic workshops were established to produce a range of products, and Puebla became famous for this type of earthenware. Buildings throughout the region are decorated with tiles like these; the ones here were probably made for the Church of San Agustìn in the city of Atlixco.


Though Isabella had traveled to Mexico in the 1880s, she only briefly visited the north of the country. In 1909, her friend, American artist Dodge Macknight, was traveling around Mexico and acted as her agent to purchase the tiles directly from the church. After acquiring the tiles, Isabella spent hours assembling the nearly 2,000 painted and glazed tiles into the pattern we see today on the walls of the Spanish Cloister.

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