Juan de Mesa_Master of Passion - Page 72



Fig 55 Juan de Mesa, Head
of John the Baptist, ca. 1625,
polychromed wood, Seville,
catedral de Sevilla.
The borders of all three sculptures reveal the camelskin’s woolly
On the basis of this formal analysis, we can conclude that the
pelt, the contrast between this and the smooth surface of the tunic
author of the magnificent Saint John the Baptist presented here is
creating a typical Baroque effect. Our figure and the sculpture
the same sculptor who produced the version still in the Dominican
from Bormujos present identical voluminous vertical folds to the
convent of Santa María la Real de Bormujos, a work which
rear, adding to the chiaroscuro and bringing dynamism to the
corresponds to the style of the Cordoban sculptor Juan de Mesa,
saint’s upright stance. The manner of describing the red mantle
himself a disciple of Martínez Montañes. A work of great artistic
with finer pleats – striated in places – is also similar, with one end
quality, our sculpture must have produced between 1623 and 1627,
on his left arm and shoulder and the other wrapping around the
in other words shortly before Mesa’s death and following on from
opposite side and back. In both images this mantle leaves visible
the version he produced for the charterhouse of Nuestra Señora de
the front of the tunic, although in the Bormujos version one end of
las Cuevas and which is now in the city’s Museo de Bellas Artes.
the mantle partly crosses this area.
Our Saint John’s bony nose, with its prominent tip where the
cartilage meets the bone, is a compositional constant in Juan de
Mesa’s masculine heads, as represented for example by the figure
notes
from Bormujos; the Head of Saint John the Baptist in the museum of
Seville Cathedral (fig. 55); and by some of his seated Saint John the
Evangelists such as that in the church of Santa María de Estepa
78
1
José Hernández Díaz, Juan de Mesa. Escultor de imaaginería (1583-1627) (Seville:
Diputación, 1972), p. 70.
2
Hernández Díaz, Juan de Mesa, p. 80., Juan Miguel González Gómez, “Juan
Fig. 54 Juan Martínez
and the parochial church of San Marcos in Seville.3 The figure’s
Montañés, Saint John the
eyebrows – indicated with small incised lines are like those on the
hacia 1600 (Cordoba: Cajasur, 2000), p. 132., Enrique Pareja López, “San Juan
Baptist, 1628 – 1631,
Head of Saint John the Baptist in Seville Cathedral, each hair a small
Bautista, obra atribuida”, in Juan de Mesa. Grandes maestros andaluces (Seville:
polychromed wood, Seville,
curl – are a feature of his work inherited from Martínez Montañes
catedral de Sevilla.
as are the eyes painted on with heavy lids.
de Mesa, San Juan Bautista,” in Alonso Cano (1601-1667) y la escultura andaluza
Ediciones Tartessos, 2006), p. 346.
3
Antonio Torrejón Díaz, “La iconografía de San Juan Evangelista” in La obra de Juan de Mesa:
Revisiones y nuevas atribuciones (Cordoba: Universidad de Córdoba, 2003), pp. 371-378.
79

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