Luisa Ignacia Roldán (1652 – 1706), better known as La Roldana, is considered nothing less than the first female sculptor of Spanish art. A creator who throughout her life broke several rules surrounding women and who even became a sculptor who worked for two kings, forCarlos IIand later forPhilip IV.
Saint Michael the Archangel of La Roldana
Luisa was born in Sevilla and was the daughter of Pedro Roldán, a successful image maker from the Andalusian capital. So much so that his sons and daughters worked with him in his workshop, from which numerous carvings with images of saints and scenes for Holy Week processions came out. And of all her offspring, the person with the most talent to continue with her art was her daughter Luisa Ignacia. She possibly would have worked with him all her life, if not a young man would have crossed her path
It was another sculptor, Luis Antonio de los Arcos, whom she married in 1671, without parental approval and having to go through a legal process that would allow her to marry and become in the custody of a man other than his father. Such were the rules in the 18th century.
The fact is that the couple continued to work on sculpture, first in Seville and then in Cádiz, and even over time they even shared commissions with Pedro Roldán. However, the ambition anddreams took them to Madrid so they could work with the royal court.
There one of his most relevant commissions was thisSaint Michael the Archangelwhich is in theBasilica of El Escorial. It is a life-size polychrome wood carving that they made in 1692, almost certainly being in charge of the sculptural work and he was in charge of the color.
The fact is that this sculpture from El Escorial is a good example of the expressive power of this author, which reached great heights of drama very typical of the Spanish Baroque always linked in the religious aspect to the Counter-Reformation against the Protestants.
But another note relevant to the art ofLa Roldanawas her capacity for detail. This can be seen here in the gestures and thoroughness with which he presents us with the scene in which Saint Michael is going to stick his sword into the devil. By the way, it is said that the face of that demon is Luis Antonio de los Arcos himself, while the archangel would be that of the sculptress. Something that has given rise to say that in the end her marriage was a real hell. Although it is an affirmation in which the scholars do not finish agreeing.
What does seem certain is that Luisa Ignacia Roldán worked tirelessly throughout her life, making both wooden images and delicate terracotta groups with religious scenes that today are auctioned for huge amounts of dollars. However, she died absolutely poor, because she had many clients who did not pay her what they owed orthose that did pay him, such as royal commissions, he collected for a long time after having executed the works.