• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7608

    Important European Furniture and Sculpture

    10 July 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 100

    A POLYCHROME LEAD FIGURE OF THE INFANT CHRIST

    SPANISH, MID 17TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A POLYCHROME LEAD FIGURE OF THE INFANT CHRIST
    SPANISH, MID 17TH CENTURY
    Depicted standing in contrapposto and holding up his right hand in blessing; on a parcel-gilt polychrome and brass-inlaid wood base with four lion-shaped feet; areas of the polychromy refreshed, minor chips and cracks to the paint surface
    19 in. (48 cm.) high; 24½ in. (62.2 cm.) high, overall


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    In looking at artists such as Juan Martínez Montañes (1568-1649), Pedro de Mena y Medrano (1628-1688) and José de Mora (1642-1724) one sees the result of an artistic quest to achieve a high sense of realism in wood and paint. This realism was created almost exclusively within a religious context and intended to make the onlooker humble before an essentially human image of a saint. The serenity of some of these figures as well as a tragic pathos in others would, within the context of a church, heighten the religious experience and touch the heart of the faithful.

    The present figure is similar to examples produced by Andalusian workshops during the 17th century aimed specifically at private devotion. Although not identical, this particular example is comparable to the 1606-7 wood figure of the Nino Jesús, by Juan Martínez Montañes in Seville cathedral (Diaz, loc. cit.). The treatment of the torso, abdomen and legs is virtually identical, but with variations in the rendering of the eyes, lips and hair. The variation in the pose is also interesting: the Montanes version has both arms outstretched as a welcoming gesture to the onlooker, drawing him closer to his chest and ultimately to religion. In the present version, however, an arm is raised as if blessing the onlooker, while the other may have held a flower - symbolising life and peace. Interestingly, the carved wood base upon which the Montañes figure sits is virtually identical to the base of the present figure.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN


    Literature

    Brussels, Splendeurs d'Espagne et les Villes Belges 1500-1700, 1985, II, no. C12, p. 477.

    COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
    J. H. Diaz, Juan Martínez Montañes (1568-1649), Seville, 1987, figs. 92-4.


    Exhibited

    Brussels, Splendeurs d'Espagne et les Villes Belges 1500-1700, 25 Sep.- 22 Dec. 1985.