JUAN DE MESA

Cordoba, 1583 – Seville, 1627

Saint John the Baptist

Parcel-gilt polychrome wood

164 x 82 x 73 cm

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JUAN DE MESA

Cordoba, 1583 – Seville, 1627

This sculpture represents Saint John the Baptist standing, his left hand holding a closed Bible with a symbolic lamb or Agnus Dei seated upon it. Rather than pointing to the lamb, the saint’s other hand is held elegantly in front of him as if in dialogue with the believer. The saint is wearing the traditional brown camel’s hair and a red mantle which winds around him loosely.

The formal characteristics of the image indicate the style of the sculptor Juan de Mesa, as does the manner of carving the head –in particular the hair, eyes and beard– as well as the voluminous vertical pleats and the movement of the mantle. The modelling of these elements produces a strong chiaroscuro, also typical of Mesa.

The Cordoban sculptor Juan de Mesa trained in the Sevillian workshop of Juan Martínez Montañés, with the result that some of Mesa’s early works reflect the classical and serene spirit of Montañés. Mesa died relatively young –at the age of 44– and his activity is documented in the 1610s and 1620s. In this short time, he was responsible for a large number of important sculptures.

José Luis Romero Torres

Technical data

JUAN DE MESA

Cordoba, 1583 – Seville, 1627

Saint John the Baptist

Parcel-gilt polychrome wood

164 x 82 x 73 cm