Juan de Mesa_Master of Passion - Page 102

Technical study and restoration of
Juan de Mesa’s Cristo de la Agonía
by the Instituto Andaluz
del Patrimonio Histórico
(Andalusian Heritage Institute)
Eva Villanueva Romero
In January 2017 the Andalusian Heritage Institute (IAPH)
responded to a request for urgent intervention on the wood
sculpture Cristo de la Agonía (fig. 68). The request came from Don
Luis Ricardo Apestegui Cardenal, representative for heritage
in the Diocese of San Sebastián.1 Cristo de la Agonía was made by
Juan de Mesa (1583-1627) in 1622 and commissioned by Juan
Pérez Irazábal (1576-1642), a Basque royal comptroller residing in
Seville. It shows Christ crucified at the moment of death, his body
tense, gazing upwards in anguish as if crying out at the desertion
of his Father, as recorded in the Gospels of Saint Matthew and
Saint Mark: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
The sculpture remained on the premises of the IAPH from 24
January to 30 March 2017. Here various conservation operations
were carried out to prepare it for display in the exhibition
Presencia 400 años con los Desamparados. Martínez Montañés aprendiz,
genio y maestro, held in Seville during April and May 2017.2 The
conservation-restoration works were finished on 6 February 2018,
and the sculpture moved to the Capilla de Afuera del Monasterio
de la Cartuja, Seville, where it was on show to the public from 9
to 11 February. On 11 February 2018 it was moved to its usual
location in the parish church of San Pedro de Ariznoa, Guipúzcoa.
While the crucifixion image was in the sculpture workshop in the
Intervention Centre, in addition to the work needed to prepare it
Fig. 68 Juan de Mesa,
for exhibition a rigorous organoleptic survey was carried out. The
Cristo de la Agonía,
results of this and complementary tests are laid out in “Diagnostic and
polychromed wood,
proposal for treatment” from April 2017, approved by the representative
from the church of
of the San Sebastián Diocese. The proposal in this document formed
San Pedro de Ariznoa
the basis for a comprehensive conservation and restoration intervention,
in Bergara.
clearly necessary from the work’s state of conservation (fig. 69).3


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