Lot 4
  • 4

Luis Salvador Carmona (1709-1767) Spanish, Madrid, circa 1740-1750

bidding is closed


  • Saint Francis of Assisi
  • polychromed wood, with glass eyes, on a gilt and painted wood base
  • Luis Salvador Carmona (1709-1767) Spanish, Madrid, circa 1740-1750


Doña Maria del Carmen de Alfonso Perdomo, Madrid, since 1960;

and thence by descent

Catalogue Note

Saint Francis is represented here with the traditional Franciscan habit, tied at the waist with the knots that symbolize his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The sculptor has masterfully reproduced the volume and stiffness of the course habit, as well as the folds produced at the waist and arms. The texture of the woolen habit is precisely rendered in paint. Despite the heavy cloth, Saint Francis is given a subtle contrapposto by placing one leg forward and a slight tilt of the hips. This posture, together with the angle of the head and the open arms provide the sculpture with rhythm and movement. The carving and colouration of the face and hands is the most striking feature of the figure. The features are carefully chiseled, with a sharp straight nose and veins on the temples. The individually carved teeth show through the slightly opened mouth. The treatment of the hair, eyebrows, moustache and beard are also demonstrative of the sculptor’s fine carving skills. Adding to the naturalism of the face and hands is the colour of the skin which is made life-like through the use of underlying blue and red. The Saint’s stigmata is clearly recognizable through the habit on his side, hands and instep of the proper right foot.

The representation of the Saint in this naturalistic manner was meant to engage the faithful. Its style points to the work of Luis Salvador Carmona (1708-1767). Active in Madrid during the first half of the 18th century, Carmona was one of the most important Spanish Court sculptors. He was heavily involved in the decoration of the Royal Palace of La Granja, and was a founding member of the Academia de Bellas Artes. His official role at Court, combined with his extraordinary technical ability, inspired many of his colleagues and patrons, stimulating demand for his work in all of Spain (García Gaínza and Chocarro Bujanda, op.cit., pp. 297-326).

Carmona was in many respects inspired by Pedro de Mena’s work and this figure of Saint Francis is clearly derived from that sculptor's rendering of the same subject (see Bray, op.cit., no. 33). Carmona has been inspired by the overall sculptural form and the highly sensitive treatment of the aged face and pallid skin-tones of De Mena’s version. The sculptor from Madrid would carve several figures of Saint Francis, all of which are related to the present example. See specifically the versions he made for the Hospital de la Concepción in Yepes, Toledo, documented first in 1740, the version carved for Nuestra Señora de Estepa, Seville, for which the sculptor received several payments between 1743 and 1746, and the version in Olite, Navarre, dating to circa 1750 (see Recio, op.cit., pp. 330-331, Díaz Fernández, op.cit., pp. 253-280 and García Gaínza, op.cit., p.91). The present statuette presents a more temperate movement in respect to the aforementioned versions, perhaps as a result of its small format, which was probably due to the artist carving it for a more intimate setting such as a private chapel.

M.C. García Gaínza, El escultor Luis Salvador Carmona, Pamplona, 1990; M. C. García Gaínza and C. Chocarro Bujanda, “Inventario de bienes del escultor Luis Salvador Carmona”, Academia 86, 1998, pp. 297-326; E. Díaz Fernández, “La obra del escultor Luis Salvador Carmona en Estepa”, Boletín de Arte 23, 2002, pp. 253-280; M. Recio, “Un San Francisco de Salvador Carmona en Estepa”, Archivo Español de Arte 187, 1974; X. Bray (ed.), The Sacred made real. Spanish painting and sculpture 1600-1700, exh. cat. The National Gallery, London and National Gallery of Art, Washington, London, 2009

We would like to thank Alvaro Pascual Chenel for his assistance in cataloguing this work.