Juan de Mesa_Master of Passion - Page 30

Fig. 28 Juan de Mesa, Virgen de las Cuevas, 1623, polychromed wood,
Fig. 29 Juan de Mesa, Saint Blaise, 1617, polychromed
Seville, Museo de Bellas Artes.
wood, Seville, convent of Santa Inés.
The Virgin (1.37 m high) and John the Baptist (1.36 m high) by
Mesa was born in Cordoba in 1583 into a family of painters. 57
Juan de Mesa from the charterhouse of Las Cuevas make it clear
His first apprenticeship, at the age of eleven, was with the
that although he had been independent for a decade, he still
Cordoban sculptor Francisco de Uceda, after which he moved
followed his master’s style very closely (fig. 28) Indeed many of
to Seville. In 1606 Mesa entered the workshop of Martínez
the sculptures attributed and documented to the two artists are
Montañés for an apprenticeship which lasted four and a half
so similar in style that it is often difficult to distinguish one hand
years. His first documented work as an independent sculptor is
from the other. Gilman Proske suggests that Montañés may have
the Saint Joseph Walking with the Infant Jesus (see fig. 60), which he
lent Mesa his models since the John the Baptist from las Cuevas is
produced in 1615 with Alonso de la Concepción for the church of
depicted in much the same pose as one Montañés later carved for
Santa María la Blanca in Fuentes de Andalucía near Seville. By
the retablo of the Immaculate Conception in Seville Cathedral. It
this time Mesa’s commissions must have been fairly regular: from
is also possible that Montañés had already started the sculptures
1616 onwards he had several apprentices. In 1617 he produced the
for las Cuevas when Mesa took over.
Saint Blaise in the Sevillian convent of Santa Inés (fig. 29), and in
Fig. 27 Diego Velázquez, Juan Martínez Montañés, ca. 1635, oil on canvas, Madrid, Museo del Prado.


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