Skip to main content

Main Building

San Diego de Alcalá (Saint Didacus of Alcalá)

Late 17th century
Artist/maker unknown, Mexican

This remarkable enconchado (shell inlay) painting comes from an artistic tradition that flourished in Mexico from 1650 to 1750. Inspired by Asian trade goods, painters seamlessly incorporated pieces of mother-of-pearl into their compositions, often extending the technique onto the frame. The reflective qualities of mother-of-pearl, especially when lit by candlelight, gave these works unparalleled luminosity.

San Diego de Alcalá (c. 1400–1463) was a Spanish lay brother of the Franciscan order and is depicted here within his monastery’s walled garden. Images such as this one, rare and jewel-like, represent a synthesis of the arts and cultures of Europe, Mexico, and Asia.

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.

Main Building