Lot 12
  • 12

José de Mora (1642-1724) & Diego de Mora (1656-1729) Spanish, Granada, circa 1700

bidding is closed


  • Christ gathering up his Tunic
  • polychromed wood, on a gilt wood base
  • José de Mora (1642-1724) & Diego de Mora (1656-1729) Spanish, Granada, circa 1700


Don Manuel de Sousa e Holstein-Beck, 4th Count of Póvoa, Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal, until 2012

Catalogue Note

This small but profoundly moving image of Christ, humbly gathering his tunic as he is released from his bonds at the column, is closely related to a carving by the sculptor José de Mora, formerly in the Monastery of San Pedro de Alcántara and later in the parish church of San Salvador in Granada, which was destroyed in a fire during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Gallego y Burin’s 1925 description of the lost masterpiece is echoed in the present sculpture. As opposed to earlier work by de Mora it is: “more stylised and as if arising from an obsessive spirituality… This is not a suffering face but one filled with bitterness, slightly incoherent, blurred and lost. Rather than suffering, this is sadness.” (op.cit., pp. 147-148, fig. 15)

The more formal characteristics of the statuette compare well with de Mora’s practice too. The tunic on the floor was fashioned from polychromed cloth as was that of the lost Granada example and numerous other works by de Mora (see Orozco, op.cit., p. 252). The arrangement of the arms and legs of the present statuette is also close to the destroyed sculpture, whereas a statue of the same subject by José’s younger brother Diego in the convent of the Shod Carmelites in Granada is composed rather differently. The finesse of the modelling of the anatomy, different from the somewhat sketched succession of planes typical of José de Mora’s figures, and the naturalism with which the grazes and lacerations are rendered, however, do compare well to Diego de Mora’s interpretation of the theme. It is therefore likely that the present sculpture was carved during the years that José de Mora collaborated with his brother Diego. In 1704 José had lost his wife and had developed mental issues according to his biographer Antonio Palamino, whom he met in 1712. Diego helped to run the still thriving workshop around this time and the two created some of their most gripping work (op.cit., p. 1140).

The moment at which Christ falls to the ground after being mocked and abused by his torturers and gathers up his tunic in isolation, anticipating the carrying of the Cross, was not described in the Gospels but was elaborated upon in mystical texts prevalent in Spain in the 17th century. Dark depictions of the scene were painted by Zurbarán for the Church of Jadraque and Murillo (now in the Krannert Art Museum, Illinois), and Alonso de Mena is known to have carved a Christ gathering his tunic for the Alcalá la Real in Jaén which is now lost. The scene appeared on multiple occasions in the 17th century in Southern Spain because it brings into focus the complex interplay of beauty and suffering that so often characterises the Spanish Baroque. It surpasses the Crucified Christ and Christ Recumbent in intensity and expressive power.

A. Gallego y Burin, José de Mora. Su vida e su obra, Granada, 1925; A. Palomino de Castro y Velasco, Parnaso español pintoresco laureado, Madrid, 1947; E. Orozco Díaz, “Unas obras de Risueño y de Mora desconocidas”, Archivo español de arte XLIV, 1971

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