MONTAÑÉS, Juan Martínez
(b. 1568, Alcala la Real, d. 1649, Sevilla)
The Merciful Christ (detail)c. 1605
The face of the most perfect of men retains all its serene beauty in the hour of his suffering. Lowered with infinite tenderness towards the sinners, his eyes express a profound sadness, his open mouth seems about to utter the words of forgiveness. The real torment of God, who was sacrificed for man, was not his bodily pain but the tragedy of so many souls led astray in sin. The Spanish image-makers carved these works with great piety: for them, to sculpture a figure of Christ was not only to produce a work of art, but to offer a prayer; Montañés used to take communion before setting to work.