The sculptorAlonso Canois one of the great representatives ofBaroque art in Spain, especially with regard to religious themes, since he made countless virgins and immaculate. In addition to the fact that his work served as a reference for other later creators, such as his disciple Pedro de Mena.
Virgen de la Oliva by Alonso Cano
In this case, the Virgen de la Oliva created for the parish church of Lebrija, in the Andalusian province ofSeville. It is still in that temple, located on its main altar, where an entire altarpiece by Alonso Cano is preserved, although initially that commission was made to his father, Miguel Cano, in the year 1629. Although his father, soon discovering his son's innate talent, decided that he should undertake the work.
We are therefore before a work of youth, but in which some of the constants that will mark the entire artistic production of this sculptor can already be seen.
We see a large figure, which is over 180 centimeters tall and therefore larger than life size. That helps this image made of polychrome wood to show us the most majestic and imposing.
The woman is wrapped in the same cloth from her head to her feet, creating a fusiform figure and silhouette, which is a kind of style mark ofCano. And in contrast, the Child appears totally naked, his flesh shimmering next to the decorated cloth of his mother's mantle.
The entire sculpture conveys the idea of serenity, with a melancholy look from Mary and a smiling gesture from Jesus. Everything with great naturalness, like his sculpture, which on many occasions has been defined as a flow of lines.
As we have already said, the entire altarpiece of the Virgen de la Oliva parish church was a work of youth, and even so here he created several of his masterpieces. Not only the figure of this virgin, but also those of Saint Peter or Saint Paul, in addition to that of Christ that crowns the entire altarpiece, of truly monumental and innovative architecture, which from then on would create a school in Andalusian art. and Spanish.
And this despite the fact that the paintings that house the altarpiece are not of great quality. These are some paintings made by the master Pablo Legot, of Luxembourgish origin. It would also be this artist who would paint the cloak of the Virgin, however in the case of that sculpture it seems that he adhered to a strict approach by Alonso Cano, who even directed the work to him. Perhaps for this reason, this is one of his best works.