(b. ca. 1576, d. 1636, Valladolid)

The Dead Christ

Polychromed wood
El Pardo, Madrid

The theme of the dead Christ, crucified or gisant, was treated frequently by Fernandez. After the 16th century the scene was reduced to the representation of Christ alone, without the traditional mourners. Here, anecdote is suppressed; this is the Christ of Sorrows, stiffened in the rigor of death - the extreme expression of realism in sculpture. The bone structure is insistently marked, the eyes hollow, the cheeks sunken. The very realistic polychromy accentuates the physical aspect of the Passion; streams of coagulated blood run down the cheeks and disappear into the beard. Such conceptions emphasize the function of image that 17th-century Spanish sculpture served.