Nov 15, 2012

Talpa Family Chapel

Enter through the double glass doors of the first-floor galleries, and look straight down the hallway. Past sculptures by Eugenie Shonnard and Charles Bunnel, You'll see the FAC's recreation of the historic Talpa Family Chapel's through our 1940-50 acquisition of altar screens and santos. An interior replica of the Chpale of Our Lady Talpa was completed in 1977.

There was a lot of uproar when the FAC first wanted to acquire these objects in the late 30s because it was partitioning up the original historic Chapel. The Chapel was suffering major neglect and the FAC returned purchase the altarscreen for the sake of cultural preservation. 

[The removal of the altarscreen from the Chapel in 1950] incensed some members of the Museum of New Mexico staff. However, steps looking to the return of the chapel contents were not pursued at that time, because it was felt that the objects would be preserved, since they were in possession of a good museum. 
— Boas Long, Director of the Museum of New Mexico, memo from Oct. 14, 1954 

The site of the Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa was chosen by architect and builder Nicolas Sandoval. The earth under it is known for its healing powers -- some studies suggest the site may have been used extensively in pre-HIspanic times by the Taos Indians.

Taylor Museum director and research director Mitchell Wilder and William S. Stallings, Jr pioneered a serious academic interest in Southwestern art, and was one of the first museums to base their collection in this genre.

One of the inscriptions on the roofboards of the chapel from 1851.
En el nombre de Dios todo poderoso y de la siempre Virgen Maria de Talpa, desde el año de 1838 se fabrica. Jesus, Maria y Jose. A debocion del esclabo [Ni]colas Sandoval por mano del es [...] Rael Aragon. Aprovada poe el illumo. Dn. Jose Anto de subiria. Viva Jesus Maria y Jose.

In the name of God all powerful and the ever Virgin mary of Talpa, since the year 1838, it was built — Jesus, Mary and Joseph — by the devotion of the slave [or: the sculptor] Rafael Aragón. Approved by the most illustrious Don José Antonio de Zubiría. Hail Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

 Artist unknown, St. Anthony of Padua
(San Antonio de Padua), pine carving, before 1850.

Attributed to José Rafael Aragón, St.
Joseph (San José), paint on cottonwood,
ca. 1838.

José Rafael Aragón, altarscreen from Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa, gesso, tempera, pine, ca. 1838.

Visit this truly unique recreation of the Talpa Family Chapel at the FAC today! Become a FAC Member and get free admission to the museum -- so you can continue to soak up this Southwestern history invitations to exclusive events, discounts and more.

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