Retablo of the Patron Saint of Poets and Musicians

Santa Cecilia is the patron saint of poets and musicians.  This retablo evolved before I did any research on her at all.  I had bought this wonderful oil painting in Peru and just let my mind go in building a retablo for her.  I had no idea who she was–thought she was just another madonna.  When I had finished, an artist friend, Eduardo Xilonsochitl, was at my house painting and building a sculpture for me by the pool and he saw her and said, “Ah, Santa Cecilia.”  I then Googled Saint Cecilia and discovered that all of the symbolism of the retablo did in fact tell the story of her life.  Some things just want to belong together and so it was with her portrait .

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16″ X 16: Santa Cecilia: Mixed Media Retablo, Wood, Metal, paper, dried flowers and leaves, Gold Leaf, Feather, Bone, Abelone, Antique Toy Rocking  Chair, Oil Painting on Canvas, Acrylic paint. 16″ X 16. Click on picture to see details.

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13 thoughts on “Retablo of the Patron Saint of Poets and Musicians

  1. Allenda Moriarty

    Very lovely. On a more practical note the granite in our kitchen was also known as Santa Cecilia. She should have been the patron saint of cooks, as well.

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  2. Marilyn Armstrong

    That’s a beautiful painting. We bought a couple of paintings when we were in Haiti and I wish we had bought more. I rarely regret things I buy, but I often regret the things I left and can never get again. Wonderful retablo. Everything about it is lovely.

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  3. Anton Wills-Eve

    My first reaction was that I was looking at a tryptich but the hinged panels had no human figures. So I dug out my picture of saint Rose of Lima, the first South American to be canonised. The similarity was striking mostly the Peruvian multi spiked halo. have you also noticed the Byzantine icon type influence in northern Andean religious art? as hagiography was 60% of my history masters degree it is just coincidence that your beautiful retablo is known to me! Got any more lovely surprises? Ciao. Anton

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I love learning from other people! The painting probably is your Ste. Rose of Lima and Eduardo just saw it as Ste. Cecilia because of the music and poetry, so this is what I named it. I’m impressed at your knowledge, Anton. I can’t tell you how many people have instructed me about the meaning of my art over the years. There were almost always appropriate symbols that I didn’t even know were there.The subconscious has so much fun using us for its purposes. At any rate, please comment whenever you see more in the piece than I know! Judy

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  4. Anton Wills-Eve

    Judy, I have just completed a massive scrutiny of your lovely painting and I have to say it leaves me wondering. You see while it is obviously late seventeenth century South American at the earliest it has a few non sequitors in it. The central picture looks as though it is a studious copy of an earlier picture – or it could be the originial I’d have to exaine it – but it is the way it is framed that puzzles me. If you look carefully you will see that it is placed against a backing of a piece of church music that is obviously of a much later date. For a start the words of the prayer or hymn are in English with probably Spanish or Portuguese translation underneath, but it is incomplete and cannot be read. But The key to the whole assembly is probably the fact that the music is composed for string instruments only, what one would expect from say 1700 onwards. Also the various instruments on the side panels and the chair in the picture are all string instruments which would have been typical of church music of that that period. So here we have a lovely composition of different art forms honouring the various aspects of music and poetry – note the quills, the dove of peace with the twig brought back to Noah’s Ark, and above all the single rose in the forefront and the various flowers around the main figure. These would remind us that ‘Flores’ is included in St.Rose’s family name and also that the a rose is always used as an iconic symbol of her. But I still think, like you, that the whole is in honour of St.Cecilia and the references to St.Rose – as patroness of all the Americas – is added to remind the onlooker of the primacy of Saint Rose in her part of the world despite the major role of Saint Cecilia in the Roman matyrology. Also on the left the whole box is signed as a gift to someone so we have a very nice set of ideas to ponder over while not being quite sure of the work’s provenance. ciao.
    Anton

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Anton…a lovely appraisal of the piece. Did you know that I made it? It is an assemblage I collected starting with the oil painting I bought in Peru. The sheet music I added. The musical instruments were made by an artist whose studio I visited in a village near Puebla when I was traveling with a group “collecting” artists and artisans to include in a yearly feria meant to promote Mexican artisans. All of the symbolism was created by me before a Mexican friend labeled it as a tribute to Ste. Cecilia..a real synchronistic creation. Later I added a bloody axe on a platform behind the main marquee where you only see it it you view from the side or on top. Thanks for your close attention to my artwork…Judy

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