Pedro de Mena

Article

October 20, 2021

Pedro de Mena y Medrano (Granada, August 1628 - Malaga, October 13, 1688) was a Spanish Baroque sculptor, especially dedicated to religious imagery. For thirty years he had the workshop installed in Malaga, from where he carried out a large number of commissions, especially by religious orders. De Mena was a student of his father, Alonso de Mena, and also of Alonso Cano. He can be considered, in fact, an artistic descendant of Juan Martínez Montañés. Among other works, he painted the choir of the cathedral of Malaga, as well as figures and sculptures for different churches in Madrid, Murcia and Toledo, among others.

Biography

He was baptized on August 29, 1628 in Granada, in the defunct parish of Sant Andreu. His parents were Alonso de Mena, a famous sculptor, and his second wife Juana de Medrano. He spent his first years of learning with his father, along with other workshop apprentices, including Pedro Roldán. In 1646, on the death of his father, Pedro was 18 years old, and took over the workshop. From 1652 he shared the workshop with Alonso Cano; Cano had left Madrid and returned to Granada to work as a rationer in the cathedral. Thanks to this collaboration, Mena was able to assimilate more elaborate work procedures and a new aesthetic concept that he developed through technical perfection and realism.

Family and religion

On June 5, 1647, he married Catalina de Vitoria i Urquízar, a 13-year-old girl from Granada, with whom he had six children before leaving for Málaga; of the six children who survived would become religious. During their stay in Malaga, they had eight more children, but only two of them survived: José, royal chaplain in the Royal Chapel of Granada, and Juana Teresa, who entered the Cistercian, in the same place as her sisters. Andrea and Claudia Juana. In his will, of 1675, he speaks of his daughter Juana who was not yet six years old: It is clear that he was the one who had made the decision of what his daughter should do. For his firm religious belief, he asked to be buried between the two doors of the Cistercian church, so that his tombstone would be stepped on by all the faithful who entered the church. Mena had a strong religious connection to different brotherhoods, and was the elder brother of the guild of artists of the Holy Corpus Christi, Souls and Mercy. In 1678 he fought and managed to be accepted as a relative of the Holy Office of the Inquisition. This meant a social rise, as it meant a public recognition of the purity of blood and also entailed certain privileges such as being free to pay taxes. Their great friendships were mainly ecclesiastical, according to Palomino: He remained in Granada until 1658 when he was called by the Bishop of Malaga, Diego Martínez de Zarzosa, to perform the chair of the choir of the Cathedral of Malaga. Less than a stay in Madrid, between 1662 and 1663, he would always reside in Malaga, where he would set up his workshop with great success, until his death in 1688. In May 1663, at the initiative of Cardinal Baltasar Moscoso and Sandoval, was appointed master of sculpture of the cathedral of Toledo, where is St. Francis of Assisi, one of his best works. He returned to Malaga but, showing great business talents, left in Madrid a representative who was responsible for collecting possible orders and providing him with the necessary material for his work. His works spread throughout the peninsula; It is believed that his son Alonso, a Jesuit, collaborated in the dissemination of his art, as there are numerous works in temples of this order such as Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Marchena, Seville and even in Mexico City and Lima. Its great capacity

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