29 December 2011

California Mission Decor

detail of the painted reredos at Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad
Driving up Highway 101 along the coast of California, you will see a lot of signs for "El Camino Real"  and often a curved post with a bell attached. These bells indicate the old Mission Trail, which connects  a series of 21 Franciscan missions built in Alta California in the 18th century.
We decided to stop at a couple of these missions on our way back to San Francisco. And I had my camera with me.
Interior of the Soledad chapel
Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
Originally built in  1791, the chapel and one wing of the original quadrangle were completely restored in 1955, and the chapel still has the original title floor.
a simple painted dado and border in the Soledad mission chapel
Painted ornament of the most basic configurations decorate the chapel  at Mission Soledad.  The effect is whimsical, rich, serene. 
Soledad chapel ceiling
geometric border in the Soledad chapel
the lovely corredor porch of Soledad Mission
Growing up in California I took for granted the "Mission Revival" style of architecture which dominated late 19th and early 20th century development.  But when you walk around a real mission,  features like beamed ceilings, corredors, giant iron candle holders, and deep-set windows make a lot more sense. 
The nave of San Juan Bautista, the largest of the California Missions.
San Juan Bautista
Built in 1797 directly above the San Andreas fault, the largest of the California missions has survived a number of earthquakes. Much of the original structure remains,  and the church has been fairly recently restored.
arcade border in the nave, the piers are painted with folksy faux marble panels
The interior was painted originally by Thomas Doak, and American sailor and carpenter who had jumped ship in Monterey, and who decorated the reredos in 1817, in exchange for room and board.
The altar and reredos at San Juan Bautista houses six beautiful santos
A small chapel with wonderful stenciled garlands
The back of the church with its simple trompe l'oeil columns. "This is the House of God, and the Gate to Heaven"
The outer walls collapsed in 1976 and were  rebuilt within a few years. Since the mid-1990's restoration work has been carried out Dr. Ruben Mendoza and the students of CSU-Monterey Bay.  And done rather nicely I have to say!
the bapistry
This simple guilloche border is used throughout the church in different colors.
The simple ornamentation as well as the color schemes I find very inspiring and really quite useful.
A room in the convento painted in deep blue and red borders
I have no idea what the banner over this door is supposed to mean.
Do you live near an old mission? I am reminded now to revisit my local:  Misión San Francisco de Asís.  

all photos in this post by Lynne Rutter December 2011. 
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