Juan Martínez Montañés


October 20, 2021

Juan Mountain Martinez (Alcala the Real one, Jaén, 1568 - Seville, 18 of June of 1649) was a Castilian sculptor who worked between the sculpture of the Renaissance and the one of the baroque one. Trained in Granada with Pablo de Rojas, he completed his education in Seville, where he married and settled there for the rest of his life. He became the greatest exponent of the Sevillian school of imagery, and practically all his work was on religious subjects, except for two praying statues and the portrait of Philip IV of Castile. It received and it carried out orders for several cities of the American continent. In his time he was called the "Andalusian Lysippus" and also the "God of Wood" for the great ease and mastery he had in working with this material.


He was born in the city of Alcalá la Real, and was baptized in the parish church of Santo Domingo de Silos, on March 16, 1568. His father was Juan Martínez, an embroiderer, and known by the nickname of Montañés, and his mother Marta González. The marriage had six children, of whom Juan was the only man. He maintained a deep relationship with the only two of his sisters who reached adulthood. The youngest of them, Tomasina, who died in 1619, lived with the sculptor until his death; its loss initiated a time of mental decay of Martinez Montañés. Between 1579 and 1580 the family already had moved to Granada where the still young Juan of about twelve years, entered the factory of Pablo de Rojas for the his sculptural training, there he also dealt with other artists such as the García brothers (Jerónimo, Francisco and Miguel Jerónimo). The apprenticeship in this city would be short, because it is known that in 1582 he was in Seville. At the end of his apprenticeship with Rojas, he moved to Seville, where his whole family would follow him. Several artists from Alcalá la Real were already established there, such as Gaspar de Rages or Raxis, nephew of his master Rojas. In this city he began working in a sculpture workshop, which is believed to have been that of Gaspar Núñez Delgado. He enrolled in the Brotherhood of the Sweet Number, where it is stated that he gave a Marian image, although he does not say that it was his authorship. The first documented data of his stay in Seville correspond to June 1587, when he married with Ana de Villegas, daughter of the carpenter of altarpieces Juan Izquierdo, in the parish church of San Vicente. From this marriage five children would be born: Mariana (Dominican nun), Bernardino (Franciscan friar), Jose (presbyter), Rodrigo and Catherine. 1 of December of 1588 appeared before an examining court, composed by Gaspar de Águila and Miguel de Adam, to accredit its sufficiency in sculpture and design of altarpieces. Under the presence of the court he sculpted a dressed and a naked figure, and also made the erection of an altarpiece, being declared "skillful and sufficient to exercise these trades and open a public store." In August 1591 he was imprisoned on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a certain Luis Sanchez, and remained in prison for two years, until the widow forgave him on delivery of one hundred ducats. The document of the lawsuit is kept in the Archive of Notarial Protocols of Seville. It was established in the neighborhood of La Magdalena, in Carrer de la Muela; his wife Ana died there in 1613, and was buried on 28 August in a tomb owned by the couple in the convent of San Pablo in Seville. Martínez Montañés remarried on April 28, 1614 to Catalina de Salcedo y Sandoval, daughter of the painter Diego de Salcedo and granddaughter of the sculptor Miguel de Adán. From this marriage were born seven children Fernando, Mariana, Francisco, Ana Micaela, José Ignacio, Teresa and Hermenegildo. In 1629 he fell ill, and had to remain in bed for five months, which made him forget.

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