Road to Chalma

Maker and role
Artist: Jean Charlot, American, born France, 1898-1979
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Object detail

Oil on canvas
60 x 40in (152.4 x 101.6cm)
Credit line
Gift of Mary Jo and George N. Newton
Accession number
Object type
Further information
Considered a sacred site since pre-Columbian times, the Sanctuary at Chalma is a Christian holy place that receives the second largest number of visitors after the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. This painting records the moment when pilgrims come to the end of their journey with the town's church in the background. Charlot typically presented working class and family themes, stressing the universality of human experience. In addition, the rough-hewn quality and angular forms of his figures suggest pre-Columbian sculpture.

Both in Mexico and New Mexico, the Spanish introduced Catholicism to the indigenous population. The New Mexican tradition of saint-making began in the 1700s out of the need to furnish churches in the remote colony.
Subject period


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