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

The Merciful Christ

c. 1605
Polychrome wood, height 190 cm
Cathedral, Seville

This polychromed wood Christ on the Cross is one of the most elevated expressions of the Christian theology. Commissioned in 1603, it dates from Montañés' early years. The contract with Montañés survives, and in it are laid down in minute detail the smallest particulars of the iconological theme that the artist was to follow. The Christ was to be attached to the cross by four nails, as described in the Revelations of Saint Bridget, and he must be represented as "alive, just before dying, with his head leaning towards the right and looking at a faithful believer kneeling at his feet..." Impassioned with all Christological themes, the Spanish people imposed on their imagemakers the task of evoking the various moments in the agony of the Crucifixion; this image conveys Christ's supreme mercy for sinners.

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