Juan Martínez Montañés


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(bapt. Alcalá la Real, nr. Granada, 16 Mar. 1568; d Seville, 18 June 1649).

The greatest Spanish sculptor of the 17th century, known as ‘el dios de la madera’ (the god of wood) on account of his mastery as a carver. He was active mainly in Seville, his most famous work being the Christ of Clemency (1603–6) in the cathedral there, which shows the new naturalism he brought to the polychromed wooden statue (Pacheco often painted his figures). In this he occupied a role comparable to Gregorio Fernández in Valladolid, but Montañés was more aristocratic in style, tempering Baroque emotionalism with a classical sense of dignity. In 1635–6 he was in Madrid to undertake his only recorded secular work, a portrait head (now lost) of Philip IV (see Habsburg) to serve as model for the equestrian statue of the king executed by Pietro Tacca in Florence, and it was on this occasion that Velázquez painted his well-known portrait of Montañés (Prado, Madrid). His work influenced painters such as Zurbarán as well as sculptors such as Cano (whom he probably taught), and his style was spread by his flourishing workshop.

Subjects: Art.

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