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Spanish and Latin American cathedrals are distinguished by their broad hall-like interiors, their gilded and polychrome Retables, the central position of the enclosed choir (coro), and the pairs of monumental organs that flank each side of the choir. The construction of twin organs reached its apogee in the middle of the 18th century. Typically, these organs have two façades, one facing towards the choir and one facing out towards the lateral aisles. The earliest extant example of this design is found in the double-façade organ (1469) of the cathedral of Saragossa. This organ is noted for its red-and-gold Gothic case.

The technical development of the Spanish organ, though distinct in detail, parallels the general trends found throughout Europe. The 17th, and particularly, the 18th century saw the modest size of cathedral organs evolve into large and complex machines. The enlarging of the sound palette (organ stops) resulted in an increase in the space needed to house the pipes. The position of the organ in Spanish cathedrals—in the nave arches—intrinsically constrained the organ builders’ ability to expand the depth of the instrument. The solution was to stack the internal division of the organ vertically, and most innovatively, externally. Organ cases grew higher and wider, eventually occupying the entire space of the arch. Examples of this are the monumental mirror-organs of the Andalusian cathedrals of Seville (...

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Santos  

James Cordova and Claire Farago

Term that refers to handmade paintings and sculptures of Christian holy figures, crafted by artists from the Hispanic and Lusophone Americas. The term first came into widespread use in early 20th-century New Mexico among English-speaking art collectors to convey a sense of cultural authenticity. Throughout the Americas, the term imagenes occurs most frequently in Spanish historical documents. Santos are usually painted on wood panels (retablos) or carved and painted in the round (bultos). Reredos, or altarpieces, often combine multiple retablos and bultos within a multi-level architectural framework.

European Christian imagery was circulated widely through the Spanish viceroyalties in the form of paintings, sculptures, and prints, the majority of which were produced in metropolitan centres such as Mexico City, Antigua, Lima, and Puebla, where European- and American-born artists established guilds and workshops. These became important sources upon which local artists elsewhere based their own traditions of religious image-making using locally available materials such as buffalo hides, vegetal dyes, mineral pigments, and yucca fibres, commonly employed by native artists long before European contact....