Juan Martínez Montañés (Spanish, 15681649)
Gilt and polychromed wood; H. 61 in. (155 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1963 (63.40)
Montañés was a native of Seville, where he was known as El Dios de la Madera for his many retables which populate the churches with magnificently polychromed wood figures. This figure, which dates from about 162535, came from the convent of Nuestra Señora de la Concepción. It has for its compositional precedent Montañés's own Baptist of the main altar in San Isidoro del Campo at Santiponce, made between 1609 and 1613. The Museum's Baptist is, however, a fuller and more emotionally charged figure. In fact, it has been called Montañés's most beautiful single figure. Its austere expression, solid corporeality, and sharp colors give a disquietingly urgent impression of actuality and conviction.