MONTAÑÉS, Juan Martínez
(b. 1568, Alcala la Real, d. 1649, Sevilla)


Portrait by Velázquez, c. 1635

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 worked for most of his long and productive career in Seville (Pacheco often painted his figures), his most famous work being the Christ of Clemency (1603-06) in the cathedral there, which shows the new naturalism he brought to the polychromed wooden statue. In this he occupied a role comparable to Gregorio Fernández in Valladolid, but Montáñez was more aristocratic in style, tempering Baroque emotionalism with a classical sense of dignity.

In 1635-36 he was in Madrid to undertake his only recorded secular work, a portrait head (now lost) of Philip IV 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 Velázquez and Zurbarán as well as sculptors such as Cano (whom he taught), and his style was spread by his fluorishing workshop.

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