Founding Fragments – New Mexico Hide Painting

Founding Fragments – New Mexico Hide Painting

Welcome to Flag Hall at the National
Museum of American History. We pretty much figure than this is where
the magic happens. In our first episode we took a look at some fragments from
the original Star-Spangled Banner. The real flag lives behind this wall.
All of the objects we’ve looked at so far are part of the story of the United States of America. But what about the stories that come from America before it was the United States? (music) (music) To learn more about parts of the country that actually didn’t join us until later, we’re jointed today by Curator of Latino
History and Culture in the Division of Home and Community
Life, Margaret Salazar-Pozio. Thank you for joining us today!
Thanks so much for having me. So here we are in front of a giant
case and in this giant case we have what? Well, we are going to look at a hide painting,
a large hide painting that was found in a church in Santo Domingo, New Mexico and it is of St. Anthony of Padua and infant Jesus. Great, let’s bring it out. Get ready guys, this is the big reveal. Nice. Wow! Look at that it’s huge!
It is pretty big and it’s also incredibly
delicate I so badly wanna touch it and I’m not
Nah. For conservation purposes it probably
won’t go out on display ever again, but that’s why we get to share it with the public in a venue like this. Isn’t that so cool? You’re never going to see this ever again. (laugh) Send it to your friends. One of the questions we received from viewers, which by the way we still want questions from everybody, is a little bit about St. Anthony. Do we know anything about him? Well, St. Anthony was a member the Franciscan Order and you
can tell by his hairdo actually, and he’s pictured with a
book that we believe to be of the rules of the Franciscan Order, and he is also pictured holding the
baby Jesus who appeared to him in a vision in
his youth. St. Anthony is depicted with a brown robe of the Franciscan Order and a knotted cord around his waist. You can see the knots and the knotted cord would have been used for sometimes self-flagellation, sometimes for praying purposes. Down here is a white ribbon that says San Antonio. And we’re not sure what it would
have said on this side. he didn’t Too bad it doesn’t say like 1725 by artist so-and-so. That would have been ideal. That’s not what happens in most history. These rounded hills also feature some pear-shaped trees and perhaps these are some of the palms that would have been laid at the feet of Jesus.
This indigo sky and the white kind-of clouds echo the baby Jesus’ halo, and
St. Francis is known as the patron saint of lost things, so if you pray to him, Catholics believe that
he will help you find lost things. This is obviously very old, what else to do we know about the
painting itself? Sure. So it was collected in Santo
Domingo, New Mexico in 1897, and it is painted on elk hide. There are debates over when it actually
was produced and who produced it and the debates are actually part of
the interesting history in the object. So on one hand there are people who
believe that it was maybe painted as early as 1600- 1610. Other sources say that it
was painted in 1725 by a Franciscan monk. And then others say that it was even
later like early 1800s, and that it was painted by enslaved Native Americans in the missions. So there are multiple different kinds of
stories than what those stories all tell us is that these are different
kinds of traditions and different kinds ways it could have been produced because
many hide paintings were produced at the time so it reflects a larger history of hide painting. Tell us a little bit about the fact that you know in 1600, 1725, even as late as
1810 when the Mexican revolution started, none of this would have belonged to America. It’s really
interesting that this is an American History Museum. Yeah, and that’s a question that we
are always kind of grappling with and tackling is: what is American history? And for me, I come
from the southwest, I’m from California and so my understanding American history
starts well before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, but also
takes into account this long history of conquest and also of an
incorporation into the nation: new states, new places, new people as the nation grew the borders changed, and so it’s a very interesting history, and it’s
part of what we aim document here at American History. Thanks for joining us today! Be sure to check out our next episode by following us online at Our next object is Mr. Peanut!
See you next time!

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2 Replies to “Founding Fragments – New Mexico Hide Painting”

  1. Our Founding Fragments video series gets up close and personal with historical treasures in the collection of the National Museum of American History. Subscribe to our channel to find out about future episodes, or learn more at
    In this episode, our host Tory joins curator Dr. Margaret Salazar-Porzio to examine a fragile relic of the colonial Southwest: an elk hide painting of St. Anthony used inside a Spanish mission church.

  2. I love this! Hope you have some more of these beautiful and remarkable objects. She defined it very well, wish I could be there to see it in person, all I have is a little St. Anthony prayer card. Encore!

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