Spanish Colonial Santo wearing a Cap SOLD A853

Very handsome santo wearing distinctive headgear, beautifully carved, a martyr, and lifting his robe to display his wound. Wood and gesso.

Price on request.

Santo (English: Saint) are various religious artforms found in colonized parts of Spain consisting of wooden or ivory statues that depict various saints, angels, or Marian titles or one of the personages of the Holy Trinity. A Santero refers to a wood-carver who makes the image, but has also come to be known as someone who collects Santo images either as a religious devotion, or artistic hobby, or both. Some Santo images which have gained greater public devotion among the faithful have also merited Papal approval through Canonical Coronations.


Icons and other religious images were crucial for the conversions of indigenous peoples to Roman Catholic Church, which was itself an integral part of the Spanish colonization of the Americas. However, long distances, inefficient methods of transportation, and high demand for such artworks limited the ability of ecclesiastical authorities to supply parish churches, especially those in remote outposts, with works of religious art from the Kingdom of Spain. Santo images are also common throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, while the tradition of santo carving was preserved as a folk art in Northern New Mexico, whose isolated villages remain secluded to this day. Of particular note is the village of Cordova which has produced several well-known Santeros (carvers of santos). A major one was George López, who was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982.

Santo statues are commonly known as revultos or informally as bultos. They are usually carved from cottonwood root, pine or aspen. A Santero carves a bulto with a knife and then covers it with gesso, a mixture of native gypsum and glue, to prepare it for painting. Some contemporary santeros still use paints from homemade pigments.