Margarita Mercedes Estella Marcos’ catalogue is unquestionably one of the most profound studies of ivory works of art from Hispano-Philippine, Indo-Portuguese and Cingalo-Portuguese productions. A doctorate in Art History, scientific researcher and director of the prestigious magazine Archivo Español del Arte of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto Diego Velázquez, Margarita Estella is the authority in the subject, as this catalogue clearly evidences. Beside providing the readers with 204 catalogue entries, accompanied by details and supporting images, she offers rich and rigorous information, organised in such a way that it allows for a deep understanding on this specific, local art production in a global context.
The catalogue is divided into several chapters, beginning with a prologue by the deceased Mexican historian, collector and great defender of Mexican artistic heritage, Guillermo Tovar de Teresa, followed by a brief section by Estella Marcos, describing the different types of ivory figures and groups, which form this vast and outstanding collection.
In the introduction, the author provides an insightful historical background, tracing the development of this art in the context of the Spanish presence in America, followed by a section on general stylistic features of the Hispano-Philippine production, proceeding to an iconographical analysis of the groups of figures in this specific collection. The first section of the book is then concluded with an extensive catalogue of striking and high-quality Hispano-Philippine works of art, with a corresponding analysis of each piece, reinforced by documental and visual sources that support the author’s thesis. The second part of the book repeats the structure of the former, yet encompassing the Indo- and Cingalo-Portuguese productions. Taking the Hispano-Philippine production as a point of departure and showing their similarities and discrepancies in method, iconography and theme, this section provides new insights on these art works and their religious and historical backgrounds.
Towards the end of the catalogue, unusual and stimulating examples are exhibited, namely religious figures from the Ecuadorian (Quito) and Chinese productions, Hispano-Philippine and Indo-Portuguese wooden sculptures with ivory parts, magnificent Hispano-Philippine dressed sculptures, terminating with Indo-Portuguese and Moghul-Portuguese furniture. An addendum provides further remarkable examples of sculptures found just before the catalogue was published. The catalogue finishes with a complete glossary, a comprehensive bibliography and an onomastic index, which not only simplify the manoeuvre of this catalogue, but also enables the advancing of knowledge on this highly fascinating subject.
Published by Espejo de Obsidiana Ediciones, Monterrey, México, 1997
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