December 24, 2017
Maynard Dixon (1875-1946), Christmas Eve Procession, Taos New Mexico, 1931, oil on canvasboard, 15 15/16 x 19 3/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1937.
Maynard Dixon’s portrayal of a traditional Christmas celebration in Taos, New Mexico, reveals a cultural blend of Christian customs, introduced by early Spanish missionaries, and rituals of the Native American people. The simplified forms of the buildings on the plaza seem to arise out of the snow-covered ground, evoking the interaction between man and the natural western landscape. Dixon was in Taos on Christmas Eve in 1931, having spent six months painting in the noted artist colony. He witnessed the nighttime procession with its bonfires and torches, as a statue of the Virgin Mary was carried ceremoniously around the plaza before being returned to the local church.