LARGE hollow TRAY known as batea in polychrome lacquer (blue, orange, white, red, yellow, pink) on a black background. Decoration of concentric circles with a background representing a historical scene and wide band with characters.
In the center, under a stylized sun, a horseman dressed in the fashion of Louis XIII, with a wide-brimmed hat, a large white collar and high shoes stopping at the knees, accompanied by a dog; below, two musicians playing guitar between a vase and a goat; higher, left and right, two couples of women holding bouquets; all around these figures, dwellings, tents and domed houses, lush vegetation populated by small animals.
On the wide band, four scenes separated by a large floral dahlia button depicting the same types of characters, gentlemen, some with swords at their belts, ladies with long skirts, musicians, maidservants, in an identical environment with tents and domes, trees and stylized flowers, squirrels, rabbits and various quadrupeds. The large central medallion is separated from the large band by a small frieze of flowers made up of groups of punctuations and a larger one with floral buds interspersed with foliage; these same friezes separate the large band from the edge of the dish. On the reverse, a black lacquer background and a frieze on the edge of a long polychrome scroll with head-to-toe flowers.
Mexico, Michoacán, Periban or Uruapan, circa 1650
Diameter: 75,5 cm - Height: 11 cm
(slight accidents, small polychrome repeats). Mexican lacquer, unlike oriental lacquer, which is composed of vegetable exudation, is based on a mixture of animal fat extracted from the female cochineal, a drying oil extracted from sage seeds or chicalote and white earth of mineral origin based on lime carbonate, magnesia and silica. These components, depending on the region, may vary. The lacquer of Michoacan, the cradle of varnish, uses tzirimu or alisier wood for its trays, which is covered with this boiled mixture to which pine resin is added. To give a dark effect to the lacquer, blackish volcanic earth powder is used. Several coats are necessary to obtain a smooth lacquer after brushing to remove impurities. The decoration is applied afterwards using natural pigments. Thus, the colour known as charanda, visible here, is a unique brick red, the black is made with guava wood or calcined animal bones mixed with Prussian blue.
The decoration of this large batea can be linked to other works in public collections with the same chromaticism of orange, white, blue, yellow and pink on a black background, such as a cabinet at the Hispanic Society Museum in New York (inv. LS2071, fig.a), a very large batea at the Museo de América in Madrid (inv.06920, fig.b) and a small one at the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv.158-1866, fig.c). The one presented here is remarkable, not only for its large size and state of preservation, but also for the theme of its decoration, which features figures dressed in Western style in an environment marked by exoticism. It is particularly representative of a production intended for export to Europe, initiated in the 16th century by the missionaries of New Spain. The Jesuit Fathers thus knew how to use an ancestral art from pre-Columbian
Mexico to produce objects for the Castilian nobility, who were fond of anything that evoked faraway lands. Its remarkable character also lies in its antiquity, with most of the objects sold at public auction in recent years dating from the 18th century.
Works consulted: T. Castelló Iturbide, "Vernis ou laque" in Artes de México, no. 153, Guerrero y Chiapas, 1972, pp. 109-114; Exhibition New York 1990, Mexico - Splendors of Thirty Centuries, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 453-454; M. de Orellana, "Arte poupular y artesanias de Mexico" in
Artes de México, no. 43/44, 1963, pp. 1-34, 1-11, 13-14.
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Location of the item France - 75116 Paris