Arroyo Hondo Painter and the Arroyo Hondo Carver
Active 1828-1850

The village of Arroyo Hondo, twelve miles north of Taos, flourished in the early 1800s and became an important agricultural community. It supported several religious edifices that served the increasing population and surrounding settlements that stretched north towards Colorado.

The Arroyo Hondo painter was named after his major commission for the church of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de Arroyo Hondo. The altar screen is now in the Taylor Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His devotional paintings are similar in style to the works of José Aragón and based on those similarities he is thought to have followed in his artistic tradition. His images are usually half-length portraits surmounted by decorative lunettes and a linear border with a palette comprised of blue, white, red and black. Ears on his images are often placed considerably too low on the head, a trait unique to this artist.

The anonymous Arroyo Hondo carver appears to have been a regional artist who created works primarily for his community and was thus was named for the village in which many of his bultos were found. His pieces are hand carved, indicating that he was working in the period just before milled lumber began to appear in 1846. His pieces are characterized by elongated bodies, angular faces with pointed chins, heavy lidded eyes that resemble crescent moons and long narrow noses that are wide at the base and pointed at the tip.