Juan de Mesa_Master of Passion - Page 50

In Tristán’s version, executed around 1613-1616 for the
Saint Ferdinand discussed above. In order to avoid this potential
monastery of San Pedro Mártir also in Toledo, he is seen giving
confusion, the saint’s name is also written on the base of the work.
alms to the poor (fig. 42). Sevillian painters, however, represented
Now lacking its sceptre and crown, which could have been wood
Louis with a beard, either in royal garments (as did Pacheco) or in
or silver, the present sculpture was also intended to be clothed
armour with an embroidered mantle (as in Roelas). The execution
with a real mantle embroidered with gold fleur-de-lys for use on
of the present sculpture of Saint Louis coincides with the period
the saint’s feast day, as can be seen in the Saint Ferdinand carved by
when the activities of the religious movements founded in Seville
Pedro Roldán and his daughter Luisa which is processed annually
by Saints Hermenegild and Ferdinand were revived. Perhaps it is
on the feast of Corpus Christi. The polychromy of the present
for this reason that the present sculpture is conceived like an image
work is exquisite and delicate with fine gilded decoration on the
of Fernando, in a cuirass and holding a sword, and that Saint
hose, although the decoration in relief on the cuirass includes some
Louis holds a sceptre with fleur-de-lys.
areas of nineteenth-century restoration.
The present sculpture was produced within this context of
Saint Louis is carved from cedar, the wood commonly used for
devotion and iconographic invention. On his upper body Louis
sculpture in Seville from the late sixteenth century onwards. The
wears a coat of mail of a dark grey tone which served to protect the
fact that the sculpture is in the round suggests that it was a titular
wearer from sword cuts. Over this is a cuirass with gilded candelieri in
image on an altarpiece similar to the above-mentioned one in
relief and a large fleur-de-lys in the centre. This motif allows Saint
Cadiz, which is 4 cm shorter. In addition, the work’s typically
Louis of France to be identified; without it the sculpture might be
Sevillian formal characteristics make it possible to suggest that it
thought to depict San Fernando. Few examples of a figure wearing
was the titular image of the chapel of the French Nation in the
armour are known in Andalusian sculpture of the first half of the
conventual church of San Francisco de Asís, known as the Casa
seventeenth century but the image of Don Alonso Pérez de Guzmán
Grande. The French living in the city, most of them merchants,
– carved in 1609 by Juan Martínez Montañés for the monastic
founded this chapel in 1581.6 Little is known about it, although
church of San Isidoro del Campo in Santiponce (Seville) – is one
a significant date in its brief history is that of 1715 when its
of the masterpieces of Andalusian Baroque sculpture in its perfect
altarpiece was gilded and a large catafalque built to mark the death
recreation of the different elements and the textures of the armour
of Louis XIV, King of France. In her study of this Franciscan
(see fig. 25). Juan de Mesa not only knew the work but undoubtedly
monastery María José del Castillo notes that: “the objects in
participated in its creation as by that date he had been present in
this French foundation were lost, with no indication of their
Martínez Montañés’s studio for some years.
whereabouts located in any records. It is most likely that they were
divided among private individuals.” 7
Fig. 42 Luis
Protruding from the top of the cuirass of the sculpture presented
Tristán, Saint Louis
here is a plain or “Walloon” collar of the type decreed for use by
The volumetric, bushy treatment of the eyebrows is similar to
of France, ca. 1613-
Philip IV in 1623 to replace the ruff and depicted, for example,
those carved by Juan Mesa in other figures, such as his Cristo de
1616, oil on canvas,
by Velázquez in his portraits of Philip IV and the Count Duke of
la Misericordia (1622) in the conventual church of Santa Isabel
Paris, Musée du
Olivares of the 1620s and 1630s. This collar helps to date the work
in Seville (fig. 43), and his Head of Saint John the Baptist (ca. 1625)
and provides a further differentiating element from the images of
in Seville Cathedral (see fig. 55). The treatment of the hair –


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