Saint Francis Xavier

Sculptor : Juan Alberto Pérez Rojas
Date | 2022
Materials : Gilded cedar wood, tempera and oil polychromed.
Dimensions : 70 cm
Location : Private collection (Seville)

Description of the work

The sculpture in question represents the Jesuit missionary Francisco Javier, a close collaborator of the founder of the Society of Jesus, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, whom he met in Paris where he went to study at the Sorbonne University. He was born in what is now the Navarrese town of Xavier on 7 April 1506 into a noble family of the kingdom of Navarre.

In the proposed iconography, the saint wears a cassock, a cassock and a priestly stole, the usual representation of him. It is worth noting how he opens his cassock and robe with his right hand to show the flame of fire coming out of his chest, symbolising his missionary ardour to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Measuring 70 centimetres, the figure shows a classical contrapposto, resting the weight of the body on the left leg while the right leg is brought forward. In contrast, he is holding a wooden and silver crucifix in his left hand, towards which he looks up and bows his head.

With his right hand he grasps the rochet and also opens the cassock, revealing his chest and the flame of fire mentioned above. The ornamentation is truly remarkable, with a painstaking pictorial decoration on the cassock, executed in tempera on fine gold, using different types of chisels, in a sgraffito design with shades of white and grey.
The rochet has a notable border on the lower part, accompanied by a smaller border on the sleeves. The stole, which is also engraved on fine gold, is decorated in the same style.

The polychrome of the flesh tones is a tan colour, with careful work on the transition to the hair and beard. The modelling of the hair and beard is in keeping with the usual representation of the saint, grouped in short locks.

As a whole, the sculpture summarises the tradition of Andalusian sculpture with a notable use of sculptural techniques that placed it among the highest levels of polychrome statuary of the 17th and 18th centuries.