19th Century Varones de Dios Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus Antique Mexican Retablo #133

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  • Varones de Dios (Men of God) Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus Antique Mexican Retablo
  • Men of God Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus Antique Mexican Retablo
  • Late 19th Century Original Retablo Oil Painting on Tin created in Mexico.
  • Retablo dimensions are approx. 10 inches horizontal x 14 inches vertical.
  • Condition: in poor, original condition with some minor paint loss acquired over more than a century of use and devotional prayer. There is some scattered rusting, bent corners, and a small piece is missing in the bottom right corner. The large dark shadow in the center of the retablo is a candle burn that would have taken decades of use to be that prominent.
  • A rare folk retablo painting, oil on heavy gauge tin, depicting Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus who were present at the crucifixion, took part in the deposition (Jesus' descent from the cross) and the entombment of Christ.
  • Joseph of Arimathaea was a wealthy and respected member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish legislative council in Jerusalem, and a secret disciple who obtained permission from Pilate, the Roman governor, to take the body of Christ from the cross. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin who came to Christ by night to receive instruction. Together they would respectfully lay Christ to rest.
  • Joseph brought a linen sheet and Nicodemus contributed myrrh and aloes to preserve the body. They took Christ's body down and swathed it with the spices enveloped in strips of cloth. In this retablo one is depicted holding the ladder and pincers, the other nails removed from the body and a hammer. Usually the pair can be distinguished by their dress, with Joseph more elegantly clad; however, in this retablo they appear to don very similar vestments. Nicodemus is the one believed to have removed the nails from Christ's feet. So perhaps the figure on the right is Nicodemus, and John is depicted on the left.
  • Note from Brian: This is a rare and somber subject that I have always found emotional and very touching. The extensive wear and use obvious on this piece attracted me as an artifact. Usually the subject matter is more a portrait of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and their tools. This rare example is the only one I've ever seen that still has Christ on the Cross, seemingly still alive, and casting a benevolent gaze to his petitioners.