Juan de Mesa_Master of Passion - Page 48



The painter Juan de Roelas (d. 1625) painted him in a similar way,
wearing an ermine over the royal mantle and holding the sceptre in
his right hand, the other resting on his sword hilt (in a similar position
to that of the work presented here) (fig. 40). This painting, produced
ca. 1608, was part of the main altarpiece for the church of the Jesuit
seminary of Santa Isabel in Marchena (Seville). In the view of the
author, this is the period when the present sculpture was executed.
In the three paintings mentioned above as well as in the work
presented here, Saint Louis is depicted bearded. The traditional
image of the saint elsewhere in Europe was of a beardless young
man, following the polychromed stone sculpture in the SainteChapelle in Paris.3 This is how he was depicted by Giotto and
Simone Martini in the Italian Trecento. In Giotto’s painting (in
Santa Croce in Florence), the king holds a sceptre crowned by
a fleur-de-lys and wears a mantle embroidered with the same
motif; in Simone Martini’s (probably from Santa Chiara in
Naples) he wears a brown habit signifying his association with the
Franciscans. Louis continued to be depicted without a beard well
into the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, although
by then he was given a cuirass on account of his royal and
military roles. This is the case in the Equestrian Portrait of King Louis
of France by the Italian painter Jacopo Ligozzi (1547-1626), where
the figure is both beardless and wearing armour.
In Toledo, El Greco and Luis Tristán depicted the saint
beardless, wearing armour and with a sceptre topped with a
46
Fig. 40 Juan de las Roelas, Saint Louis of France, ca. 1608, oil on canvas,
fleur-de-lys. In El Greco’s depiction, painted between 1590 and
Marchena, seminary of Santa Isabel.
1597, Louis also holds the “hand of justice” (fig. 41).4
Fig. 41 Domenikos Theotokopoulos, known as El Greco, Saint Louis, King of France, and a Page, 1590-1597, oil on canvas, Paris, Musée du Louvre.
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