Santos in Oaxaca's Ancient Churches

A study of santos in 16th-century and other churches in Oaxaca, Mexico


By Claire and Richard Stracke
Funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

In Santa Ana del Valle:

Christ: Ecce Homo
Crucifix (1)
Crucifix (2)
Crucifix (3)
Crucifixion Group
Holy Family
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows (Soledad)
Palm Sunday Christ
St. Anne (1)
St. Anne (3)
St. Joseph
St. Peter of Verona (Peter Martyr)

Other santos not photographed
St. Anne

Saint Anne:
The Anne figure stands behind the Virgin, both hands raised palm-up. The figure of the Virgin, a full head shorter, has the right hand up in a similar gesture, while the left holds the child, whose hands are raised in the same gesture, the left holding an orb. The figures are carved as two separate statues, but they were designed as an ensemble. Although the faces are flat and almost coarse and the hands show little detailing, the figures and the rhythms are powerful. The lines of the Mary figure, with upraised arms and draped cape, continue the shape of the protective Anne figure behind. The child is carved as a part of the Mary figure and sits on the left arm, the head tilted up and parallel to the upraised left arm of the Anne figure.

The Anne figure is painted with golden 6-petaled flowers, but the front of the robe has not been finished. The mantle is painted with large arabesques of flowers and leaves. It is as delicate as work in stiffened cloth, but Sr. Aquino Cruz informs us that the entire ensemble is wood. The Mary figure wears a red robe and a blue mantle edged in gold; there is no pattern on either robe or mantle. On the front edge of the mantle is a chip that reveals the wood beneath. The child is in white.

Local Name: Santa Ana.

Basis for Identification: This arrangement of the figures of Anne and her progeny is known to art historians as Anna Selbdritt.

Site: Church of Santa Ana del Valle.

Location: Right end of the retablo of the main altar.

Media and construction: Wood, gesso, paint.

Comparable santos in Oaxaca: We found no other Anna Selbdritt compositions in Oaxaca. Statues of St. Anne alone: Santa Ana 1, Santa Ana 3, and possibly Teotitlán.

External Links:
Wikimedia Commons: Statues of Saint Anne in Mexico
Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Anne
Wikipedia: Saint Anne
Christian Iconography: Saint Anne, Mother of the Virgin Mary

Next: Turning now to the south side of the nave, we first encounter an altar with a statue of St. Anne holding the child Mary.

Previous santo

Introduction to Santa Ana del Valle

Santos Home Page

The photo shown here is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. You are free to share or remix it on two conditions: first, that you attribute it to the photographers, Claire and Richard Stracke, without implying any approval of your work on their part; second, that if you alter, transform, or build upon this photo, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.