Jose Rafael Aragon

Type
Individual
Role
Artist
Identifier
AragonJoseRafael
Alternate names
Rafael Aragon
Lifespan
circa 1796 – 1862
Functions, Occupations, and Activities
>Wood carver, santero
Medium
Wood, paint
Biography
José Rafael Aragón (ca.1783-90 - 1862) was one of the most prolific and popular santeros in nineteenth-century New Mexico...José Rafael Aragón (known by his middle and last name, Rafael Aragón) was born in Santa Fe some time between 1783 and 1790. His parents were Juan Andrés Aragón and Juana Gertrudis Domínguez Mascarenes, who had been living in Santa Fe since at least 1782 when their first daughter was baptized. It is most likely that the santero José Aragón was Rafael’s older brother. José Aragón’s work is closely related in style and appears to have been an influence on that of Rafael...In the 1823 census he listed his occupation as escultor (sculptor), and many three-dimensional images, called in Mexico and New Mexico santos de bulto or simply bultos, can be attributed to him...In 1832 Rafael Aragon’s first wife, María Josefa Lucero, died, and in 1834 he moved from Santa Fe to the village of Pueblo Quemado (now Córdova) near Chimayó where he married a young widow, María Josefa Córdova. He lived in Pueblo Quemado for the rest of his life, raising a second family and making his living as both a santero and a farmer. After his move Aragón became the leading santero of the region. Nearly every church north of Santa Fe had an altarscreen painted by him. Among them were major works at Santa Cruz de la Cañada, Chimayó, Pojoaque, Córdova, El Valle, Picurís Pueblo, Vadito, Talpa, and Llano Quemado. In addition to painting altarscreens and carving bultos, he also painted numerous smaller retablos for individuals and family altars...It is likely that Aragón had a small workshop with apprentices and other artists working with him, including his brother and José Manuel Benavides, whose work in both painting and sculpture is similar in style and technique to that of Aragón...Rafael Aragón died in 1862 and was buried at the church of Santa Cruz de la Cañada, leaving his wife and two unmarried children: José Miguel and Isabel. A number of retablos in his style appear to have been painted by an apprentice. They are more child-like renderings and they date by tree-ring dating and other physical evidence from the 1850s and 1860s. The most likely apprentice was his son José Miguel Aragón who was born in 1842. Miguel Aragón was still remembered as a santero by the people of Córdova in the 1930s. It appears by the early 1870s Miguel Aragón was no longer making santos. Rafael Aragón and the artists associated with him represent the height of the art of the santero in nineteenth-century New Mexico. [Retrieved on 9/13/17 from http://newmexicohistory.org/people/jose-rafael-aragon]
Geographic names
Santa Fe
Related people/organizations
Filimon Aguilar (influenced)
Jose Aragon (is sibling of)
Miguel Aragon (is child of)