The following comes from an October 13 Orange County Register article by Antonie Boessenkool:
For the second time, the Bowers Museum is highlighting patron saint of Orange County and the Americas, the Virgin of Guadalupe, with an exhibit of paintings, carvings, silver and devotional objects.
But compared with the first exhibit, in 1995, this one is far broader, with loans from 15 museums, private collections and religious institutions. Of these approximately 60 pieces on display, some rarely, if ever, are seen by the public.
“Some of the most interesting images of the virgin are still being kept in convents, churches, in the basilica, in the cathedral,” Mayela Flores Enríquez said on opening day for the exhibit in Santa Ana earlier this month. As guest curator, Flores Enríquez, an expert in Mexican colonial art at the Museo Franz Mayer in Mexico City, saw the effort that went into bringing the pieces together. One lender was a Mexican convent of nuns, traditionally a very private institution.
There are plenty of well-preserved and well-crafted works in the show, but there are three not to be missed. The first is at the beginning of the exhibit. “Virgin of Guadalupe Touched by the Wonderful Original” was painted in 1776 and comes from the Museo Franz Mayer. The significance of this painting is that devotees believe the artwork itself has the same sacred nature as Diego’s tilma because the painting was physically touched by the tilma, a rare occurrence.
A piece of Juan Diego’s tilma is contained in another work, a two-sided oval painting from about 1743 by José de Ibarra. It comes from the Catedral Metropolitana, the largest cathedral in the Americas, on Mexico City’s main square. On one side is the Virgin of Guadalupe and on the other, Juan Diego holding the tilma with the image of the virgin. “It’s not only a work of art, but an object of devotion” and rarely on display for the public, Flores Enríquez said.
Finally, there is the large painting from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, the only piece borrowed from an Orange County lender. “Virgin of Guadalupe With Four Apparitions and Mexico City’s Marian Bastions,” from the early 1700s, shows the Virgin of Guadalupe surrounded by four images of separate apparitions of her.