Earlier this summer, Maria I posted some beautiful photos of El Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan) in Puerto Rico. I told her that I’d spent one day in Old San Juan many years ago when I was on a cruise that stopped there. I fell in love with the place, and I’ve always intended to go back some day. I also told Maria about two lithographs I bought in Old San Juan - the subject matter of both of them is The Three Kings (aka the Three Wise Men).
Maria said, “The Three Kings are iconic in Puerto Rico. It's part of our cultural heritage and January 6 is a big holiday on the island.” So I took some photos so I could show her my art from Old San Juan.
A quick Google search turned up some cool info about “Dia de los Reyes” or Three King’s Day. In Puerto Rico, it’s the Three Kings who bring gifts to the children and the gifts don’t come on Christmas Day, they come on January 6 which is around the time that the Kings arrived in Bethlehem. This day is also known as Epiphany.
On January 5, children in Puerto Rico put out grass for the Kings’ camels instead of putting out cookies for Santa (I love that!).
A few other cool sites I found:
An art gallery with some other images of the Three Kings
This site has some good info including a sweet photo of some children putting grass in their boxes and also history about the Three Kings themselves. Believe it or not, it’s another case of stolen saints' bodies, a topic that keeps coming up on this blog!
Christian tradition from about the 7th century names the three Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar; their bodies are said to have been brought to Constantinople by Empress Helen, mother of Constantine, thence taken to Milan, and finally to Cologne in 1162 by Frederick Barbarossa; since that time they have often been called the Three Kings of Cologne.
This site has a nice wooden carving of the Three Kings and also a wonderful Madonna and Child.
Anyway, I didn’t really know all this when I bought this art, I just fell in love with the colors and the compositions, and I like art with religious themes and imagery like this. Plus, "We Three Kings of Orient Are" has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. "Star of wonder, star of light..."
I couldn’t decide which one I liked best so I bought them both. This was almost 20 years ago - sometimes I get tired of the art in my house and want some new stuff but I still love looking at these.
Both lithographs are dated 1990 so I must have bought them that year or shortly after. It was a trip with my family for Christmas – there were about 12 people or so, and going on a cruise is a great way for a big group like that to travel together. I’d never had a big urge to go on a cruise ship but I ended up enjoying it a lot. And stopping in Old San Juan was one of the best parts!
Unfortunately I'm not completely sure who the artists are. I'm sure I've got receipts or something somewhere and although both pieces are signed, it's hard to read the sigs.
The blue one: the signature looks like "R. Matos"
The green one: "Majico Trio by A. Mova (or maybe Nova)?
Here's the green one. I had a time getting decent photos of these lithographs because I kept catching the glare from the glass so I had to snap them from an angle.