Hispano – Philipine School

17th C.

Child Jesus
Carved ivory
H. 30,5 cm.

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With hands joined together in prayer, this oval-faced Christ Child possesses large eyes with brown polychrome irises, a straight nose with pronounced nostrils and a small smiling mouth. His hair, in spiralling curls, rises in a slight ribbon to the forehead, leaving the outer ear exposed.

The Child wears a kind of shirt opened to the neck with elbow-length sleeves in flounces held by a button and tight-fitting to the waist. Under the shirt, he wears a skirt with wide pleats, held to the knee with buttons like those of the sleeve. Crossing the chest is a pleated canvas tied to the right. His straight legs end at the feet, in sandals.

The reverse, superficially worked, shows wavy hair in bands, finished in point, with the stripe diagonally crossed on the back, the curved edge of the shirt and the skirt.

Even though his head and features recall the beautiful Hispano-Philippine piece at the Museum of Medina de Rioseco, they are also similar to those shown by the Sinhalese-Portuguese piece at the Museo de Monterrey (1). What is not common in either of those two schools is the type of garment shown on this piece, since in the Filipino style, the children are only dressed with robes, for example those accompanying the Holy Families, which is also uncommon in the Indo -Portuguese.

Nor is the iconography common, since representations of the Child in both branches of colonial art are usually restricted to the following depictions: the Child Saviour of the World in an attitude of blessing, with the orb in  hand; or accompanied by his parents in a Holy Family. Sometimes he is represented as an adolescent with a small basket of tools with the symbols of the Passion.

Therefore, this 17th century Hispano-Philippine piece of the Christ Child can be categorized as an unusual depiction, which shows an Indo-Portuguese influence.

1-ESTELLA, 1984, II CAT. 538 (Niño Medina de Rioseco).-ESTELLA, 2010, cat. 145.

Expertise by Margarita Estella