Ecuadoran, with Hispano–Philippine ivory inserts
Bodies of wood, polychromed and gilded; faces and shoulders, ivory touched up with polychromy; (.172): H. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm); (.173): H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); (.174): L. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm)
Gift of Loretta Hines Howard, 1964 (184.108.40.206)
The ivory heads of Mary and Joseph were among the numerous such parts imported to America via the Manila Galleon trade. The style of the figures' polychromy, however, reveals that they were set into their wooden bodies in Ecuador. Artists there practiced a distinctive technique to embellish the garments of their sculptures, applying gold patterns over the colored backgrounds rather than scratching them through, as in true estofado.