While I was cruising around eBay, I ran across this item from the 1940s. It’s a photo that has been applied to wood and carved to give it dimension.Fotoescultur 16a

My curiosity inspired me to do some quick research. It’s called “fotoescultura”, a photo sculpture. In Mexico, in the 1930s and 1940s, skilled artisans would take a photograph then carve and paint a wooden bust based on it. After adhering the photograph to it, the artisan would hand-tint the photo and add embellishments such as jewelry and costuming to create a startling likeness. Fotoescultur 13

In the early half of the last century, most Mexican families did not have a camera, so just to have an image taken of a family member would be a very big event.Fotoescultur 15

The fotoescultura would take pride of place on the mantel, transforming beloved photographic portraits into handmade sculptural keepsakes.Fotoescultur 14

Many surviving examples are of men in uniform.Fotoescultur 02Unfortunately this is a dying art, with very few artisans still living.Fotoescultur 03

The ornately carved frames are an artwork unto themselves. Too bad this is a skill that will soon disappear.

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