Juan de Mesa_Master of Passion - Page 26



In 1603 Montañés was commissioned by Mateo Vázquez de
Leca, archdeacon of Carmona, to produce one of his best-known
sculptures, the Cristo de la Clemencia or de los Calices (1.9 m high) for
the charterhouse of Santa María de las Cuevas (fig. 21).38 Although
the figure clearly relates to Juan Bautista Vázquez’s popular Cristo de
Burgos, the direct model was a small silver crucifix by Michelangelo’s
disciple, Giacomo del Duca, brought to Seville by the silversmith
Juan Bautista Franconio.39 Montañés’s Christ exemplifies the
exaltation and serenity conveyed in many of his works; he is
depicted as if still alive, before Longinus’s spear has pierced his
side, corresponding to instructions issued by Vázquez de Leca:
Fig 23 Juan Martinez
The said Crucified Christ should be alive before having
Montañes, Saint Dominic,
expired with his head inclined to the right side looking
1605-1609, polychromed
at whichever Person that might be praying at His feet,
wood, Seville, Museo de
as if this same Christ were speaking to him…
Bellas Artes.
40
Fig. 24 Juan Martinez
Montañés nevertheless positioned Christ hanging lower on the Cross
Montañés, Inmaculada,
than his predecessor had done, conforming to Tridentine precepts
1606-1608, polychromed
about depicting the suffering experienced by the Saviour. Montañés
wood, Seville, church
also breaks with widespread medieval convention, representing the
of Nuestra Señora de la
use of four nails to attach Christ to the Cross rather than the more
Consolación (El Pedroso).
common three. This was again specified by Vázquez de Leca, following
the vision of Saint Bridget according to which Christ’s left foot was
Fig. 21 Juan Martínez Montañés, Cristo de la Clemencia, 1603-1606,
polychromed wood, Seville, catedral de Sevilla.
placed on top of his right foot with two nails through them.41
then correct its defects by means of judgement and learning.48
quality of colours used, he was precise:
Book IV, which focused on iconography, held that the principal
Vázquez de Leca knew Montañés as a fellow member of the
aim of painting was to incite the faithful “to adore and love God
mystical Congregación de la Granada (Congregation of the
(they) must be the same and as choice as those used for
and to cultivate piety.”48 Pacheco and Montañés worked together
Pomegranate), a group founded to defend the Immaculate
illuminations and must be ground in water with the same
often, although their relationship suffered when Montañés in
Conception of the Virgin. Another member was the painter
cleanness…except that, in place of a medium of gum
1622 contravened guild regulations by doing his own polychromy
Francisco Pacheco who was contracted to polychrome the Cristo de la
Arabic, fresh egg yolk has to be used, with half an egg shell
for the sculptures in his altarpiece for Santa Clara. Despite the
Clemencia carved and gessoed by Montañés. As Xavier Bray explains,
of fresh, clear water, beaten until it foams. The colours
ensuing dispute, Pacheco included what is thought to be a portrait
Pacheco painted shadows onto the figure in a technique borrowed
for estofado over burnished gold should be mixed with this
of Montañés in his Libro de descripción de verdaderos retratos de ilustres y
from panel painting, with darker flesh tones suggesting the hollows
medium, all the surface to be covered having been primed
memorables varones (the “Libro de Retratos”) (fig. 22).
beneath Christ’s ribs and under his armpits.43 Pacheco had since
with white lead, whether it be for grotesques on the gold
1599 been president of the painter’s guild whose pintores de ymaginería
or for garments painted in various colours… for blues the
In 1605 Montañés started work on his his well-known Penitent Saint
monopolized the right to polychrome sculpture. Dedicating three
egg yolk should not be as strong as for carmine, vermillion,
Dominic (147 x 68 x 126 cm), now in Seville’s Museo de Bellas Artes,
chapters of El Arte de la Pintura to the debate about the relative
ochre, and other colours with little body…”
for the monastery of Santo Domingo de Porta Coeli (fig. 23). Along
42
Fig. 22 Francisco
Pacheco, Portrait
of Juan Martínez
24
specific colours for all age groups and for hair.46 With regard to the
47
merits of painting and sculpture, Pacheco claimed that colour – the
with his later Saint Jerome for the Hieronymite monastery of San
Montañés in the
preserve of painters – “reveals the passions and concerns of the soul
All of this was written in Book II of his Arte de la Pintura, started
Isidoro del Campo, this figure is at once anatomically precise and
Libro de Retratos,
with greater vividness [than any other element of a work of art.]”
around 1600 but published posthumously in 1649. This volume
otherworldly; both sculptures refer to Pietro Torrigiano’s iconic
1599-1624, drawing,
Flesh tones were to be painted in oil with a matt finish, which made
more generally proclaimed the idealizing purpose of art,
Jerome executed three quarters of a century beforehand. The figure
Madrid, Fundación
them seem closer to nature, and a technique which he claimed to
corresponding closely with Counter-Reformation strictures. The
for Porta Coeli was followed by the Inmaculada (1.55 m high) for the
Lázaro Galdiano.
have introduced to Seville.45 Pacheco also recommended the use of
painter should thus begin with direct observation of nature and
church of Nuestra Señora de la Consolación in El Pedroso (fig. 24).
44
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