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Luisa Roldàn | Baroque sculptor

Luisa Roldàn | The Entombment of Christ, 1700-1701 | Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Entombment is one of the two "jewel-like sculptures" Luisa Roldán gave to the newly installed King Philip V of Spain in 1701, petitioning him to appoint her sculptor to the royal court.
In the previous decade she had pioneered a genre of sculpture - powerfully conceived and exquisitely modelled and painted figural groups, made on a deliberately intimate scale - of which this is perhaps the finest.

Luisa Roldàn | The Entombment of Christ, 1700-1701 | Metropolitan Museum of Art

The emotive expressions of the six figures surrounding the body of Christ as he is laid to rest run the gamut from angry disbelief and empty grief, to tender love and sympathy.

The Entombment may have been placed in a convent or monastery affiliated with the royal family, or in the family’s private rooms or chapels.
In whichever context, it would have inspired meditative devotion, encouraging the viewer to identify with the witnesses to Christ’s Passion. | Source: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

"La Sepoltura" è una delle due "sculture simili a gioielli" che Luisa Roldán diede al re Filippo V di Spagna appena insediato nel 1701, chiedendogli di nominare il suo scultore alla corte reale.

Nel decennio precedente aveva aperto la strada a un genere di scultura - gruppi figurali fortemente concepiti e squisitamente modellati e dipinti, realizzati su una scala volutamente intima - di cui questo è forse il più bello.

Luisa Roldàn | The Entombment of Christ, 1700-1701 (detail) | Metropolitan Museum of Art

Le espressioni emotive delle sei figure che circondano il corpo di Cristo mentre viene sepolto vanno dalla rabbiosa incredulità e dal vuoto dolore, al tenero amore e alla simpatia.
La sepoltura potrebbe essere stata collocata in un convento o monastero affiliato alla famiglia reale, o nelle stanze private o nelle cappelle della famiglia.
In qualsiasi contesto, avrebbe ispirato devozione meditativa, incoraggiando lo spettatore a identificarsi con i testimoni della Passione di Cristo. | Fonte: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Luisa Roldàn | The Entombment of Christ, 1700-1701 (detail) | Metropolitan Museum of Art

Luisa Ignacia Roldán (8 September 1652 – 10 January 1706), known also as La Roldana, was a Spanish sculptor of the Baroque Era.
She is the earliest woman sculptor documented in Spain.
Roldán is recognized in the Hispanic Society Museum for being "one of the few women artists to have maintained a studio outside the convents in Golden Age Spain".

Because of the quality of her work, Antonio Palomino considered her as important a sculptor as her father, Pedro Roldán.
Although Roldán became the Escultor de Cámara, or Court Sculptor, to the Habsburg King Charles II, she struggled financially.

Like many artists of her time she died poor, signing a declaration of poverty shortly before her death.
On the day of her death, Roldan was given the title of "Academician Merit" from the Accademia di San Luca in Rome.

Roldán's works are strongly characterized as possessing "clearly delineated profiles, thick locks of hair, billowing draperies, and mystical faces with delicate eyes, knitting brows, rosy cheeks, and slightly parted lips".
The "knitted brows" that are sometimes noted in her terracotta angels are not usually seen in her works in wood, which are characterized by open, evenly arched brows. Her St. Ginés de la Jara, made around 1692, is now at the Getty Center.

Unlike the billowing cape of her St Michael in El Escorial, the robe worn by the Getty's San Gines is very still.
Processional statues whose creation can be safely attributed to her include statues of the Virgen de la Soledad, Mary Magdalen, and Jesus.
Her sculpture of the Virgen de la Soledad appeared in several Catholic Churches and appealed to many people from different social classes.
In Cadiz, works by her include statues of Anthony of Padua, Ecce Homo, and Saints Servandus and Cermanus.

She was a prolific sculptor. Much of her work comprised religious sculptures for churches.

For example, the sculptures of the holy saints, Archangel Saint Michael and Mary Magdalene.
While living in Madrid she also made small terracotta works popular with the petty bourgeoisie. The smaller works could be used for personal devotion and took the forms of religious scenes, human forms and animals.
Her pieces were widely distributed in Andalusia, as well as in Madrid, Móstoles and Sisante (Province of Cuenca), New York, London, Ontario, Los Angeles and Chicago.


Luisa Roldán influenced several women artists in Seville, Cadiz and Madrid through her sculptures and artistic innovation.
Women artists were seen as being a part of a “private” sphere and men were a “public” sphere.
When Roldan created her sculptures she made her work public and changed the way art was perceived in the 1600s.

She is a female artist that is known as the Spanish sculptor that created her own name.
Through her artwork, she was able to earn a royal title as “escultora de camara”.
Roldán was able to illustrate her own entray called Lives of the Eminent Spanish Painters and Sculptors.

However, in the eighteenth century it was discovered that more than ninety names of women were active artists that contributed to the art in Spain and Portugal.
There were many other women artists that were being discovered at the time Roldán published her artwork.
This created tension and controversy with the idea that Roldán being one of the best known Spanish women artists. On the other hand, she paved the way for new innovational art that focused on terracotta imagery and sculptures.

Luisa Roldán, conosciuta come La Roldána (Siviglia, 8 settembre 1652 - Madrid, 10 gennaio 1706), è stata una scultrice Spagnola, esponente del barocco andaluso ed eminente artista della corte di Carlo II e di Filippo V. Era figlia di Pedro Roldán.
Luisa era figlia del celebre scultore sivigliano Pedro Roldán e di Teresa de Jesús Ortega y Villavicencio. Adolescente, entrò nella bottega paterna, dove apprese le basi del mestiere.

Al termine del periodo di formazione, sposò contro il volere paterno lo scultore Luís Antonio de los Arcos (1671).
Dopo aver realizzato i primi lavori nella città natale, si recò a Cadice, rimanendovi per due anni.

Per la cattedrale di questa città, la scultrice scolpì attorno al 1686 le statue lignee policrome di San Servando e San Germano, due delle sue opere più conosciute.
Nel 1689 si recò a Madrid in cerca di miglior fortuna economica.
Grazie alla protezione di don Cristóbal de Ontañon, ottenne di essere presentata alla corte di re Carlo II.

Il sovrano vide alcune delle opere che la Roldán aveva portato con sé e manifestò un vivo entusiasmo, commissionandole un San Michele per l'Escorial.
Pienamente soddisfatto del risultato, la nominò "scultrice di Camera" nel 1692, assicurandole il modesto stipendio di cento ducati ma anche la definitiva affermazione artistica.