15 October 2008

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


Luis Salvador Carmona: clientele and sculptural ensembles in Navarre

María Concepción García Gainza.
Director of the Chairof Navarrese Heritage and Art.

This year marks the third centenary of the birth of Luis Salvador Carmona, who is undoubtedly the best sculptor of the 18th century, not only for his taste and refinement, but also for the successful synthesis in his work of the Hispanic and the international, which he knew through multiple references. His sculpture reflects better than that of any other sculptor the period in which he lived, the reigns of the first Bourbons in which the court was opened up to European, French and Italian influences by foreign artists brought in by the kings to create a new court art that would be an appropriate image of the new monarchy and which was to be embodied in the new royal enterprises such as the New Royal Palace in Madrid and La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia). Salvador Carmona took part in the creation of official court art through his participation in both enterprises, but he also worked on wooden religious imagery in the line of the Hispanic tradition, although he updated it in accordance with the new eighteenth-century taste.

This sculptor, born in Nava del Rey (Valladolid) in 1708, established his workshop in Madrid, which became the most important in the Court. There he would receive a very large clientele of bishops and nobles, knights and friars, who were aware of his fame through the contacts he had established at the New Royal Palace and at the Royal Academy of San Fernando, where he became Lieutenant of Sculpture Director .

Among the most prominent clients were the congregants of San Fermín de los Navarros, men well off from the administration, the army, the church or simply the business world, whose generosity made it possible to donate a select groupof fifteen images to the Madrid church. The Royal Congregation can be considered the origin of the rich collection of sculptures by Salvador Carmona to be found in Navarre, concentrated in the Baztan valley and Cinco Villas and outside this areain Sesma and Olite, so that the density of Carmona's works in Navarre is greater than in other Spanish regions and they constitute a rich artistic heritage.

First-rate works by the sculptor are the Immaculate Conception and the groupof Saint Martin from the main altarpiece of Lesaka, an imposing machine made by the architect Tomás de Jáuregui between 1751 and 1754, and paid for by the generous bequestleft in Guatemala by Juan de Barreneche y Aguirre, a native of the aforementioned town. The price of each of the images is known, 160 pesos for the Inmaculada, 336 pesos, 6 reales and 1 maravedí for the San Martín, and the cost of transport from Madrid to Pamplona. The Inmaculada samplehas the smiling grace and refinement of Rococo, the richness of its profiles and the perfection of its finish suggest a relationship with the Neapolitan sculpture that Salvador Carmona must have known. The Saint Martin is an imposing block of wood that is evidence of the sculptor's skill and virtuosity. Both sculptures are signed by the artist.

The six sculptures that form part of Azpilcueta's sumptuous altarpieces were also made with American money. His patron was Don Martín de Elizacoechea, born in 1679 in the house of Dorrea, who was bishop of Durango and Michoacán in New Spain and sent 6000 pesos for the construction of the parish church, in addition to the endowment of three sculptures commissioned from Luis Salvador Carmona. The commission had come about through Miguel Gastón de Iriarte, brother of the brother-in-law of Bishop Antonio Gastón de Iriarte. 

Very interesting is a letter that tells how Salvador Carmona's clients from Baztan visited his workshop and inspected the carving of the images made under the direction of Miguel Gastón de Iriarte. The brother-in-law wrote to the bishop on 5 December 1752: "After having been in Madrid for six to seven months ( ) having spent the winter and spring at that Court in the company of my brother ( ) beautifully and very distracted by the bustle of so many people and novelties that occur every day at Court, without my health having experienced the least novelty, at the same time I had the pleasure and pleasure of seeing how the saints were working for the church of Azpilcueta under the direction of my brother, who I assure Your Grace are very good and according to the intelligent people very valuable and I hope they will be pleased to come, as there will be few similar ones in the Kingdom, since today they are working in Madrid with the best".

Set of altarpieces in the parish church of Azpilkueta

Set of altarpieces in the parish church of Azpilkueta

Another important group of sculptures can be found in the parish of Lekaroz. It dates from 1756, a year later than Azpilkueta, whose example must have been followed in the valley. It was commissioned by various members of the Jáuregui family from the Jaureguia de Ohárriz house, the most prominent member of which was the viceroy of Lima, Don Agustín de Jáuregui y Aldecoa. It was his brother Francisco Martín de Jáuregui, resident in Madrid, who appears as managerof the collective commission. For his part, he gave the church of Lekaroz a Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, a scene composed of three figures and a St. Matthias. Another brother of the former, Pedro Fermín Jaúregui, archdeacon of the Chamber and dignity of Pamplona Cathedral, gave a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary. Finally, José de Echeverría y Larreche, son of the Echeverría house and resident in Madrid, gave a Saint Joseph.

Without leaving the Baztán valley, another Virgin of the Rosary can be found in Arizcun, where Juan de Goyeneche was from, and another in Elizondo. An image of great importance is that of the Virgin of Santesteban, perhaps a gift from the Marquis of Ustáriz, son of the famous merchant Jerónimo de Ustariz.

Sculptures by Salvador Carmona can be found in other places further south in Navarre. The parish church of Sesma has three images, the Virgin of the Rosary, Saint Francis of Assisi and the gentle and gracious archangel Saint Raphael. Of great artistic merit are the sculptures of the Franciscan convent of Olite, the Saint Francis of Assisi which was brought from Madrid and made at the expense of Don Alejandro la Vega, general superintendent of this Royal Apostolic high schooland the Saint Rose of Viterbo, a gift from Doña Bernarda Munárriz "a very devout lady, who, being in Madrid, had it made by the best craftsmen". These images were placed on their altars with solemn processions and the handwritten history of Fr. Herce (1750) praises the "laughing and very beautiful face" of the saint. The artist would send the same convent three Marian clothing images, one of them the Virgin of Cholera, patron saint of the city of Olite.