17th - 18th century, Spanish School
XVII-XVIII century, Spanish School
Polychrome terracotta, 54 x 60 x 50 cm
The repentances endured during self-exile in the desert, emblematic of the Magdalene's need for redemption, are admirably summarized in the present sculpture through the particular dramatic choice of the female attitude. The Magdalene is sculpted in a poignant inner analysis, seated with an elbow on a rough trunk, regardless of natural hostility. The precious brocade painted on the dress that covers her legs, like the delicate floral touches on the long golden fabric that the Magdalene wears to her cheek, clearly denounces the cultural sphere to which this terracotta belongs, the Spanish one at the end of the 17th century. early XVIII.
Even the emphatic expression of the saint, at the same time moved and yearning, clearly demonstrates the Spanish resolutions to leapfrog the new century: from about the middle of the seventeenth century the most fervent instances of Catholicism had in fact encouraged that triumphant Baroque style on the Plataresque style which, although architectural , ended up grafting into the Iberian culture those very tight ornamentations in imitation of silverware, extremely fickle and iridescent in the triumph of details offered. A contemporary reflection on Churriguerismo by José Benito de Churriguera (1665-1725) allowed artists to move sculptures and altarpieces through an unparalleled expressionism, invaded by the most marked ornamentation. From the second half of the eighteenth century this pompous and colorful style was carefully toned down, its more sinuous lines converted to greater balance and order (Alejandro Carnicero, 1693-1756; Leonardo Julio Capuz, 1660-1731).
The present sculpture is still influenced by the experience of Juan de Mesa (1583-1627; Assumption, Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, Seville), the greatest Spanish sculptor of the Baroque period. Active mainly as a laminator and sculptor for religious brotherhoods, the artist became the perfect interpreter of the religious afflatus following the very Catholic Spanish revolution which had been dragging on since the time of Philip II. Likewise, Pedro Roldàn (1624-1699; Santa Sepoltura, Seville, Hospital de la Caridad) and his daughter Luisa (1652-1706) with her Mary Magdalene of the Speed Art Museum (Kentucky) tone down, like the present, the more pathetic to malleare sensitive and aesthetically sweet shapes. Juan Porcel (XVIII), a follower of Salzillo, followed in the same vein and succeeded in spreading Murcian dynamism at the same royal court. It should not be forgotten that, at the time, there were still only three main sculptural centers, children of a very distant artistic tradition: Castile (with Valladolid in the lead), Madrid, thanks to the establishment of the Court and Andalusia (where the thriving centers of Seville and Granada are active). The centers remained practically unchanged for the entire Baroque period, except for a change in the hierarchy which somehow manipulated their ranks: if at first Castile and Andalusia had triumphed thanks to prominent figures such as Gregorio Fernández, Martínez Montañés, Alonso Cano and Pedro de Mena, secondly the Madrid school, which in the meantime was absorbing not only great artists from all over Spain but also foreigners such as Pompeo Leoni, who then made Madrid's particularism germinate, definitively surpassed the two competitors, generating two types of sculpture: a traditional and a courtesan.
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