Fundación Focus
<em>Velázquez Centre</em>

Velázquez Centre

Focus Foundation

Juan Martínez Montañés

(Alcalá la Real, Jaén, 1568 – Seville, 1649)

St John the Baptist, 1623-1624

Sculpture in polychromed wood

152 x 66 x 59 cm.

Archbishopric of Seville

St John the Baptist, 1623-1624

The set of altarpieces in the Convent of Santa Clara in Seville, produced between 1621 and 1626, are the best works by the sculptor Juan Martínez Montañés, and demonstrate his importance in the artistic world of Seville in his day, as well as the maturity and quality he had achieved by that time. The link between this piece and the theme of the Velázquez Centre is that Montañés made it just as Velázquez decided to leave for the Royal Court, and the fact that it uses solutions that have connections with the painting of the time. It was also at around this time that Velázquez finished the Imposición de la Casulla a San Ildefonso, which also makes it possible to relate the pieces in space and time.

This San Juan Bautista, which like the Inmaculada Concepcion held by the Velázquez Centre also comes from the side altarpieces of the convent’s church, reflects the habitual iconography seen in this artist’s work, with the saint shown wearing a camel skin tunic and wrapped in a reddish, painstakingly coloured blanket. In his left hand he holds a book, and his usual attribute, the lamb, is shown above him. The form of the man’s figure, his subtly-modelled features and the expression on his face, are shown as the classical ideal, combined with a strong emotional feeling, belying the painting’s naturalism roots.

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