Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Making a Spanish Polychrome Sculpture

Seventeenth-century Spanish polychrome sculpture was intended to appear as lifelike as possible. Compared to bronze or marble statues, sculpted and painted wooden figures—often with glass eyes and wigs—achieve a remarkable realistic effect. Artists specialized in particular Spanish polychromy techniques, such as estofado: painting and incising to create rich silk fabrics with raised patterns in gold and silver used for the garments, and encarnaciones: blending and applying of oil paint for lips, hair, and modulations of the skin.
The sculpture depicted in this film "Saint Ginés de la Jara" was created by
Spanish sculptor Luisa Roldan, about 1692. It is Polychromed wood (pine and cedar) with glass eyes and measures 5 ft. 9 1/4 in. x 3 ft. 3/16 in. x 2 ft. 5 1/8 in. The Getty has this to say about her: As court sculptor and the first woman sculptor recorded in Spain, Luisa Roldán reached the top of her profession. Her father was a sculptor in Seville, and Luisa and her siblings worked in the family workshop. At nineteen, she married a sculptor from the shop and became her family's primary source of income, working independently with her husband as polychromist. Roldán's figures are characterized by clearly delineated profiles, thick locks of hair, billowing draperies, and mystical faces with delicate eyes, knitting brows, rosy cheeks, and slightly parted lips.