The Sacred Made Real

Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600-1700

Xavier Bray, Alfonso Rodriguez G. de Ceballos, Daphne Barbour, and Judy Ozone; With contributions by Eleanora Luciano, Marjorie Trusted, Rocio Izquierdo Moreno, Maria Fernanda Morón de Castro, Maria del Valme Muñoz Rubio, and Ignacio Hermoso Romero

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December 1, 2009
224 pages, 9 2/3 x 11 1/4
185 color illus.
ISBN: 9781857094220

Published by National Gallery Company/Distributed by Yale University Press

In 16th- and 17th-century Spain, sculptors and painters combined their skills to depict, with astonishing realism, the great religious themes. Wooden sculptures of the saints, the Immaculate Conception, or the Passion of Christ were painstakingly carved, gessoed, and intricately painted, even embellished with glass eyes and tears and ivory teeth. Some were shockingly graphic in their depiction of Christ's sufferings; others, beautifully clothed, appeared to bring saints to glorious life. These were objects of divine inspiration to the faithful, whether displayed on altars or processed through the streets on holy days.
Featuring new photography, this book reappraises the unique form of Spanish painted wooden sculpture. In addition to examining the sculptures’ religious roles, it also explores the unique creative relationship of sculptor and painter: Velazquez's teacher and father-in-law Francisco Pacheco, for example, often painted the flesh and drapery of wood carvings by the celebrated sculptor Juan Martinez Montañès, and taught a generation of students. The skill of painting these hyper-realistic sculptures was an integral part of an artist's training, enhancing his sensitivity to visual impact and physical presence—evident in paintings of the period.

Xavier Bray is Assistant Curator of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Painting at the National Gallery, London. Alfonso Rodriguez G. de Ceballos was formerly Professor at the Universidad Autonoma, Madrid. Daphne Barbour is a Senior Objects Conservator; Eleonora Luciano is Associate Curator of Sculpture; and Judy Ozone is a Senior Objects Conservator, all at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Rocio Izquierdo Moreno is a curator; Maria del Valme Munoz Rubio is Chief Curator; and Ignacio Hermoso Romero is a curator, all at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville. Maria Fernanda Moron de Castro is Curator of Collections, University of Seville. Margorie Trusted is Senior Curator of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


National Gallery, London (October 2009 – January 2010)

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (February – May 2010)

“[Shows] us what catalogue-making should be all about: the texts are crisp and well-written; the superb photography helps to heighten the dramatic appeal of the objects on display; and the typography is clean, elegant and legible.”

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2010 in the Fine Arts category
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