New Mexican retablo, about 1825
In the late 1960s, in an effort to expand the Smithsonian's traditional focus on the history of the eastern United States, curators actively sought out artifacts to represent regional cultures of the West and Southwest. Retablos, images of Catholic saints painted on flat wooden panels, were highly prized. This retablo depicting the Virgin Mary as the Divine Shepherdess was probably made by the artist José Aragon. It is part of a major collection originally assembled by Colonel Daniel Burns Dyer, a nineteenth-century entrepreneur who decorated his Kansas City home with Indian and Hispanic artifacts. The museum acquired the collection in 1966 from the colonel's grandniece, who had inherited it.
Folk Art, Latino History, Religious History