The History of Guatemala began with the arrival of the conquistador Pedro de Alvaradao in 1524 and the original colonial capital was founded under the name of Santiago de Guatemala (Antigua) in 1543. The city became the cultural, economic, political and religious centre of the region until the devastating earthquake of 1773 when the capital was moved to its present location. Many monastic orders were based in the town and built numerous monasteries, convents and churches.
Sixteenth century Spanish colonial silver of this quality is rare. There are four marks on the foot of the cross and Christina Esteras Martín records similar marks on a chalice as those of the silversmith Pedro Xàvier de Mayorga and the cockle shell mark for Guatemala (Antigua). Of the other two indistinct marks, one is not listed and the other mark has the same rim as the mark for the assayor of silver in Guatamala after 1553, Cosme Romàn. The stem has also four marks but in addition to the maker's mark and what appears to be the bottom of the cockle shell mark, there is a third mark of a crown which is probably a tax mark and which is also reproduced by Martín (1992 p.115) The final mark is unidentified possibly including the letters PE. The cross itself appears to be unmarked.
The chalice illustrated by Martín of circa 1560 in the Varez Fisa Collection although enamelled has a similar foot and Martin also notes four processionals: one in the Museo Nacional de Historia (Castillo de Chapultepec) in Mexico which incorporates the two tiered arcaded stem, one in the Museo Nacional de Vireinato (Tepotzlán), another in a private collection in Guatamala and finally an unpublished cross in the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Note also the Guatemalan chalice in the National History Museum (ibid.).
Martín stresses the point that Mayorga would have arrived in Guatamala from Spain as a fully trained silversmith. She stylistically relates his work of an exceptional standard to silverwork originating from Seville and Old Castille but is unable to be more specific. The earliest documentary evidence which shows Mayorga living in Antigua Guatamala is March 1568.
Esteras Martín (1992), p.115, no. 260, see also plate 14; Esteras Martín (2000), pp.54-58 and p.275-276
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