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St Dominic with a dog

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Mexico (made)

  • Date:

    1696 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Reinoso, Diego (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stone, painted and gilt, set with crystals, with silver backing, and walrus ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Alfred Williams Hearn Gift

  • Museum number:

    A.45-1923

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case DR6

Ivory was popular as a material for religious subjects, especially during the 17th and 18th centuries. Spanish and Portuguese patrons imported ivories carved with Christian imagery from their territories overseas, such as the Philippines, Mexico and Goa. German and Netherlandish artists were renowned for their dexterity in ivory carving. Their reliefs are masterpieces of composition and virtuosity.
This stone and walrus ivory relief was made in Mexico by the sculptor Diego Reinoso in 1669 and represents St Dominic (1170-1221). Dominic was the founder of the Dominican order, which was active in Central and South America from the early 16th century onwards. The dog resembles a Chinese Foo dog, suggesting an Oriental influence. Little is known about the artist. A Mercedarian priest named Diego Reinoso published a book a vocabulary of an Indian language in Mexico in 1644: Arte y vocabulario en lengua mame..., by 'Fray Diego Reynoso (mercedita)', published by Francisco Robledo in Monterrey (Mexico) in 1644. Kelemen convincingly suggests that this author and the artist were one and the same.

Physical description

Panel of bone painted and gilt, set with crystal \and walrus ivory; rectangular in shape with the corners cut off to form an octagon. The bearded saint stands with his head lightly leaning to his right, looking straight ahead. He carries a cross in his right hand and a book in his left and wears a habit, with a cross suspended around his neck. A dog sits by his left foot. with mouth open, and with its tongue out, or perhaps holding an object in his jaws. It seems to have a bell around its neck. The pupils of the saint's and dog's eyes are coloured black. The figure stands in an octagonal niche with a silvered backing. Beneath the figure of the saint is a carved geometric decorative pattern reminiscent of Mayan art. The frame in which he stands is engraved with floral patterns and five inset crystals and surmounted with conjoined volutes. On the back is an oval panel, probably of walrus ivory and separately added, the edge gilt, inscribed. The scrolled architectural pediment at the top has also been separately added. One arm of the saint's cross is missing.

Place of Origin

Mexico (made)

Date

1696 (made)

Artist/maker

Reinoso, Diego (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Stone, painted and gilt, set with crystals, with silver backing, and walrus ivory

Marks and inscriptions

'DIEGO REINOSO /INVEN /TOR EN / MEXICO / 1696'
on the back in an oval cartouche

Dimensions

Height: 6.5 cm, Width: 4 cm

Object history note

This small devotional object can be seen as medallic art, in that it displays one image on the obverse, and an inscription and date on the reverse.

Descriptive line

Panel, stone painted and gilt, set with crystal and ivory, St Dominic with dog, by Diego Reinoso, Mexico, 1696

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929. Part II. p. 110.
pp. 157-158, fig. 10
Trusted, Marjorie, ‘Propaganda and Luxury. Some Small Scale Baroque Sculptures in Viceregal America and the Philippines’, in: Pierce, D. and Otsuka, R. (eds.), Asia and Spanish America. Trans-Pacific Artistic and Cultural Exchange, Denver, 2009
pp. 359, 360
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013
Vol I, p. 183, fig. 344
Estella Marcos, Margarita M. La escultura barroca de marfil en España : las escuelas europeas y las coloniales. (2 vols), Madrid, 1984
Vol II
Estella Marcos, Margarita M. La escultura barroca de marfil en España : las escuelas europeas y las coloniales. (2 vols), Madrid, 1984
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, pp. 359-360, cat. no. 352

Materials

Walrus ivory; Crystal; Stone

Techniques

Carving; Painting (image-making); Gilding

Subjects depicted

Scrolling foliage; Dog; Staffs (walking sticks); Crucifixes

Categories

Christianity; Sculpture; Religion

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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