Juan de Mesa_Master of Passion - Page 8

Although he is not yet widely known outside of Spain, Juan de Mesa
is considered by many Spaniards to be the most expressive sculptor
of our nation’s artistic Golden Age. To this day Mesa’s sculptures are
greatly revered, and the annual procession of his Jesús del Gran Poder
through the streets of Seville in the early hours of Good Friday is
a highly emotional event. With most of Mesa’s works still in the
chapels for which they were made, we feel particularly blessed to
have acquired four fine examples: Saint Louis of France, the Virgin of
the Immaculate Conception, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Baptist which
is currently on loan to the Art Institute of Chicago.
Saint Louis is a fascinating work, closely related to early seventeenthcentury depictions of San Fernando, the Castilian king Ferdinand III,
whose canonization was of great public interest in Mesa’s lifetime.
The same is true of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, a figure
to whom Sevillians were so devoted that some 200,000 of them
processed through the streets in 1615 to sing her praises. Saint John
the Baptist has always been popular throughout Iberia, and ours is
directly comparable to others by Mesa like that in the convent of
Santa María la Real in Bormujos. Our Saint Joseph reminds us of
the devotion to this saint which developed particularly in Spain in
the early seventeenth century.
We are fortunate to have as the author of three of the catalogue
entries the Sevillian art historian, José Romero Torres, an expert
on Andalusian Golden Age sculpture and key figure in the city’s
cultural landscape. The fourth is written by Rafael Ramos Sosa,
Lecturer at the University of Seville who has published widely on
Baroque sculpture. The introductory chapter has been written by
Nicola Jennings who continues to provide art historical context in
our sculpture catalogues. We trust that our combined efforts will
help to bring the great Juan de Mesa to a wider public, extending
the devotion that we Spaniards have for his creations which play
such a memorable role in our processional culture.
Jorge Coll and Nicolás Cortés


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