Lot 10
  • 10

Pedro de Mena y Medrano (1628-1688) Spanish, Granada, circa 1656-1658

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  • Infant Christ
  • polychromed wood, set with glass eyes, with a later silver staff, on a gilt wood base
  • Pedro de Mena y Medrano (1628-1688) Spanish, Granada, circa 1656-1658


Mariano Bertuchi, Malaga, early 20th century;

and thence by family descent until 2012.

Catalogue Note

The present figure was recently rediscovered in the collection of the Orientalist painter Don Mariano Bertuchi and has subsequently re-emerged for the first time since the first decades of the 20thcentury. It is a new addition to a small group of works de Mena carved in Granada during his first years as an independent sculptor. At this formative time the influence of his master Alonso Cano is still palpable in his sculpture, but de Mena’s distinctive posed piety is nevertheless immediately recognisable. The Infant Saint John the Baptistin the convent of Santa Catalina de Zafra in Granada compares so closely to the present statue that they must have been made in quick succession.

After a period in the workshop of his father, Alonso, Pedro de Mena became the apprentice of Alonso Cano in 1652 and worked with the master for several years. During this period de Mena’s work was profoundly influenced by Cano. Specifically the positioning of the short, arched eyebrows and slanting eyes characterise works by both sculptors at this time. See, for example, the St Joseph with the Christ Child in the Museo de Bellas Artes in Granada, which was part of a commission for the convent of El Santo Ángel Custodio in Granada on which Cano and de Mena collaborated. The face of Cano’s Virgin of Belén formerly in the Cathedral of Granada and his San Diego de Alcalá in the Fundación Rodríguez Acosta in Granada also display these features.

Both in its facial features and general conception and pose, the present Infant Christ bears great resemblance to the Infant Saint John the Baptist de Mena carved for the convent of Santa Catalina de Zafra in Granada. The face also resembles those of an angel in a private collection in Granada which once belonged to the ensemble of angels from the Immaculate Conception of the parish church of Alhendín, near Granada. When de Mena settled in Malaga after 1658 he gave his sculptures of infants distinctly different traits. The Christ Child of the Virgen de Belén in the Church of Santo Domingo in Málaga for instance, has thinner hair, smaller eyes and a more rounded skull. The only other known Standing Infant Christ by de Mena is in a private collection. It is of a later date and is thought to have formed a pair with a an Infant Saint John the Baptist in the convent of San Antón in Granada. This suggests that the present figure may have also been coupled with the remarkably closely related Infant Saint John the Baptist in the convent of Santa Catalina de Zafra mentioned above.

We are grateful to José Luis Romero Torres for his assistance in cataloguing this work.