Mater Dolorosa, Pedro de Mena (Spanish, Granada 1628–1688 Málaga), Partial-gilt polychrome wood, Spanish, probably Málaga

Mater Dolorosa

Pedro de Mena (Spanish, Granada 1628–1688 Málaga)
ca. 1674–85
Spanish, probably Málaga
Partial-gilt polychrome wood
sculpture only, confirmed: 24 13/16 × 23 1/8 × 15 in. (63 × 58.7 × 38.1 cm);
on black base, confirmed: 26 × 24 3/4 × 16 1/2 in., 44.2 lb. (66 × 62.9 × 41.9 cm, 20 kg)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, Mary Trumbell Adams Fund, and Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, 2014
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 550
Carved wood sculpture, enhanced by paint and other media, including glass eyes and hair, reached a pinnacle of naturalism and expressive force in 17th-century Spain. Pedro de Mena’s virtuoso manipulation of these materials created startling likenesses of bodies and clothing. They encourage in the beholder an empathetic response to the suffering of mother and son, who appear as exemplars of worldly forbearance in the face of tragedy. Carved details such as the twisted and knotted rope binding Christ’s hands or the Virgin’s thin, deeply undercut drapery are joined by the subtle and descriptive painting in thin glazes of the silver and red brocade of the Virgin’s tunic and the bruises that cover Christ’s flesh. Mena’s desire was to make the figures seem physically present before the viewer. At the same time, they have a dignity and reserve that made them ideal works for contemplation.
Felix Ange Thomas de Baciocchi Adorno , and his wife ; Antoinette Marie de las Dolores y Garcia Josephine Nicette Euphrenie Felicie Henriette Dominique Toussaint de Vejarano ; Descendents of Felix Ange Thomas de Baciocchi Adorno (until 1973; sold with Château to private owners) ; Private Collection , Château du Boisseleau (Droué), France (1973–2013; sold to Coll and Cortés); [ Coll and Cortés , Madrid and London, 2013–14; sold to MMA ]