Patron of the Arts-The CatholicChurch: St. James on Horseback

St. James on Horseback

Carve, polychrome, and estofado wood; wrought-iron sword, stirrups, and bridle
New Spain
180 x 125 x 90 cm

This sculpture is done in wood but is painted over for detail and the armor is done in an elaborate process called estafado. Wrought iron parts have been attached for the sword and riding fittings.


St james was a figure of worship to the Spanish conquistadors who believed him to be the protector of their military invasion of the New World.

Technique or Process

St James, the figure, is carved of wood that has been painted to show details. His armor is done in estofado in leaf designs. The sword, stirrups and bridle are wrought iron.

Cultural roots

This wooden sculpture was created in New Spain where wood carving was a traditional craft of the people. The leaf motifs in the etching on his armor reflect a Moorish influence on Spanish decor as St. James was first revered by the Christians in their struggle to oust the Moors from Spain.

Lesson Plans
Visual Arts Lesson: Creating an estofado -type design of local leaves
Extension Activities

Math: Compute the exact size of this piece of sculpture changing centimeters to feet and inches. Compare its size to the Vaquero by Luis Jiminez in Moody Park or Sam Houston at the entrance to Herman Park in Houston or equestrian sculpture in your locale.

Language Arts:
Write a comparison and contrast of this piece to a local equestrian sculpure.

Social Studies, History: Research the history of the Moors invasion of Spain and draw a timeline that includes that event and goes on to the Spanish invasion of Mexico.

Social Studies, Geography: Study the globe and maps to note the area of the world that came under the Moorish influence and then the areas of the world that Spain conquered.

Science: Trace the evolution of horses from prehistoric times to today and note their influence on the cultures where they were available.