Juan de Mesa_Master of Passion - Page 40

Saint Louis of France
Carved, gilded and polychromed wood,
177 x 90 x 75 cm
x 35 7/16 x 29 17/32 in)
José Luis Romero Torres
Although this sculpture depicts a figure dressed as a Spanish
military commander during the Habsburg period, it represents
Saint Louis of France, the crusading French king Louis IX who
lived from 1214 to 1270. Any analysis of depictions of this king
in the Spanish context should be associated with the iconography
of his cousin, Ferdinand III of Castile, another military monarch
who was revered in Seville as Saint Ferdinand. Based on its formal
characteristics, the work reflects the style of the Sevillian sculptor
Juan de Mesa (1583-1627). Mesa’s output reflects the influence
exercised by his contemporary Juan Martínez Montañés over
various generations of artists active in Seville in the early decades
of the seventeenth century.
The cult of Saint Louis was disseminated in Andalusia via three
principal channels: the Jesuits, the Third Order Regular of the
Franciscans, and French citizens, particularly those living in Seville,
Cadiz, and Malaga due to their important role as centres of
commerce and ports. The French living in these locations founded
the association known as the “Community of the French Nation”
which had chapels dedicated to Louis in Franciscan monasteries in
these cities.
The monastery in Cadiz owns the only surviving altar dedicated to
Saint Louis. This altar was funded by the French and constructed
in 1673 by the architect-joiner Damián Machado with the image
of Louis carved by Pedro Roldán (fig. 33).1 The saint was also
found as a secondary figure in monastic churches belonging to
other Franciscan Orders, for example in a lateral wing of the
main altarpiece of the Sevillian church of Nuestra Señora de
la Consolación (also known as the church of los Terceros, or
Tertiaries) executed by Francisco Dionisio de Ribas in 1669.2


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