San Ramón Nonato
José Aragón, or follower, American, c. 1781/89 - c. 1860
The tradition of New Mexican santos (images of the saints) grew out of models from Spain and Mexico, but the territory's isolation and limited resources shaped the development of a distinct visual style. Using locally gathered materials, artists developed flat, linear compositions that made use of a limited palette to create a simple, direct image.
José Aragón was one of the santeros (saint makers) active in northern New Mexico at a time when there was increasing demand for religious images for mission churches and private devotions. The thirteenth-century Spaniard San Ramón Nonato (Saint Raymond, the Unborn) was a favorite in New Mexico: venerated as the patron saint of pregnant women and childbirth because he survived a Caesarian birth from a dead mother, and as the patron saint of anonymity and secrecy due to his refusal to stop preaching while he was in captivity.