This impressive statue of the Risen Christ shows the influence of El Greco (1541-1614) in Spanish sculpture in the last third of the 16th century. Standing in contrapposto with one leg behind the other, Christ’s right hand is raised in blessing, his left hand lowered. The pose closely parallels the statue of the Risen Christ given to El Greco in the Hospital Tavera, Toledo (circa 1595-98). The present figure likewise exhibits a slight tilt of the head and a similarly svelte body, with toned musculature, the upper torso swinging on the hips. The Hospital Tavera figure is itself heavily indebted to Michaelangelo’s Risen Christ in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome (completed 1521) and shows the innovations of Italian High Renaissance sculpture which El Greco brought to Toledo from 1577 until his death in 1614.
The present Risen Christ is likely to have been executed by an accomplished sculptor working in the circle of El Greco. Few sculptures are firmly attributed to El Greco, with the figures of saints and virtues from the San Domingo el Antiguo retable and high altar in the Hospital Tavera having been designed by the master but known to have been carved by others. The significant Toledan sculptor Juan Bautista Monegro (circa 1545-1621) operated within the orbit of El Greco and was heavily influenced by his innovations. Monegro’s greatest achievement was a magnificent series of statues for the facade of the Basilica of the Escorial, including the six Jewish Kings, commissioned by King Philip II.
Early in his career, Monegro had been responsible for the Retablo Mayor in the convent of Santa Isabel de los Reyes, Toledo, which was completed in 1572, five years before El Greco arrived in the city. In the third register below the surmounting Calvary scene, stands a statue of the Risen Christ. Arguably more muscular than the present figure, it nevertheless looks forward to the Mannerism of El Greco and, with a similar pose, provides a further point of reference for the present Risen Christ. A further concordance is seen in the perizonium, which likewise takes the form of a swathe of stylised drapery, barely concealing one hip. Spanish Mannerist sculptures of the quality of the present Risen Christ, which shows a confident grasp of human anatomy, are rarely seen at auction.
González Zymla, ‘El retablo mayor del convento de Santa Isabel de los Reyes de Toledo: nuevas aportaciones a la obra de Andrés Sánchez, Juan Bautista Monegro, Juan Sanchez Dávila y Pedro de Cisneros el Mozo’, Archivo Español de Arte, Vol 81, No 323 (2008), pp. 253-270