Colonial Guatemalan Silversmiths – exquisite works of art!
Guatemala housed workshops for some of the finest silversmiths in the world! Ornate religious silver objects were crafted in town and, while many were made for local Catholic churches, others decorated the finest homes in this colonial capital. Items included chalices, ornate crowns for sculptures, processional banners, censers and an array of lovely objects. Exquisite silver objects were also exported including a rare collection by Guatemalan silversmith, Blas de Abila, found in Navarra, Spain. Blas, his sons and grandsons were the finest silversmiths in Guatemala in the 18th century! The women of the family also played a very important role as this workmanship and expertise was passed down from generation to generation.
Belonging to a special guild, silversmiths were also known for their drawing and compositional skills as they sculpted the most elaborate designs of the day. Workshops had drawing tables, design books with flowers and birds and the necessary tools to create intricate detail such as chisels, hammers, squares and compasses.
The finest work of art in silver in Antigua today is the sculpture of St. Michael Archangel in the Silver Museum at the Paseo de los Museos shown in the photo. During a recent visit, Philippe Malgouryres , Chief Conservator of Heritage at the Louvre Museum in Paris, gave this sculpture a ranking of a 10 out of a 10 in the world! After I asked “why?” during his fabulous lecture on “Guatemalan Colonial Sculpture”, he responded “look at the detail in his hands”. Indeed, Philippe also confirmed that Guatemala has THE finest Spanish American sculpture. Join me on my Cultural Walking Tour and we can enjoy viewing silver together!
(Photos at the Silver Museum by Carlos Josue Grande)