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Artist Unknown Artist
Title The Child of Atocha (El Niño de Atocha)
Date 1800-1900
Medium oil on tin
Place of Origin Mexico
Culture Mexican
Catalog Number 1967.123
Collection Retablo or Ex Voto Collection
Object Name Painting
Credit line Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Clay Lockett
Didactic Information El Niño, the Child of Atocha, is one of the most common subjects in retablo art. Representations vary little: The child is dressed as a pilgrim, in a robe, cape and plumed hat, carrying a staff, a food basket and water gourd. Sometimes the symbol of pilgrimage, the Saint James shell, or scallop shell, is seen on his robe or hat. He is seated and often flowers are included in the image, either in his basket or on the periphery.

During the Moorish invasion of Atocha, Spain, only children were allowed to visit the prison where Christians were held. In response to prayers of families of the prisoners, a child appeared in the prison. He visited each of the incarcerated, giving them food and water. Like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, even after administering to everyone's needs, his basket and gourd were still full. In one of the versions of El Niño on view here, the child is manacled, a reference to the prisoners.