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Maria Concepción García Sáiz

(b Zamora, c. 1680; d Mexico City, 1748).

Spanish architect and sculptor, active in Mexico. Between 1702 and 1703 he worked in Madrid as a designer of stage machinery, later moving to Andalusia, where he produced the principal altar of the sacristy of Seville Cathedral in the Rococo style, completed in 1709 (destr. 1824). Ceán Bermúdez described it as having ‘four large estípites, pilasters, lots of angels prankishly tumbling about and a cornice broken and interrupted in a thousand places with tortuous projections and recessions, the whole topped by a huge arch’. In 1714 Balbás also carried out the plan for the choir-stalls of the church of S Juan in Marchena, carved by Juan de Valencia, equally playful in style and similarly using estípites. The same year he designed the lectern in the same church, though this was not constructed until 1735.

Around 1718 Balbás went to Mexico City to take charge of the ‘retablo del Perdón’ in the Chapel of the Kings at the Metropolitan Cathedral, using the ...


Ricardo Descalzi

[Chili, Manuel ]

(fl Quito, 18th century).

Ecuadorean sculptor. An Indian nicknamed Caspicara (wooden face), he lived in Quito, and his name and work were discovered in 1791 by the doctor and journalist Eugenio Espejo. He was a pupil of Bernardo de Legarda. He is considered the outstanding sculptor of religious images in polychromed wood of the colonial period in Quito because of the delicacy, grace, and feeling that he gave to human expressions and his attention to the details of anatomy and the movement of his figures. The elegant but natural carving of the drapery adds a Baroque quality to his sculptures. The most outstanding of his works in Quito, all of unknown date, include the Four Virtues and the Holy Shroud in Quito Cathedral; St Francis, the Twelve Apostles, and the Assumption of the Virgin in S Francisco; and La Virgen del Carmen, St Joseph, and the Coronation of the Virgin in the Museo Franciscano in Quito. In certain of his works he grouped the figures as if in a painting, as in the ...


Jorge Luján-Muñoz

Guatemalan family of sculptors. Antonio Joseph de Gálvez was a master carpenter and mason. Few of his works are known. In 1720 he contracted with S Francisco, Santiago de Guatemala (now Antigua), to make the monumento (altar) used on Maundy Thursdays. He was in charge of the rebuilding of the monastic hospital of S Pedro in Santiago de Guatemala. His son Francisco Javier de Gálvez was also a master carver, whose surviving works show high ability. In 1747 Francisco Javier contracted to make the retable of the Crucifixion (untraced) in the Capilla de Los Reyes in Santiago de Guatemala Cathedral. In 1758 he was commissioned by the church of La Merced in Santiago de Guatemala to make two retables (Guatemala City, La Merced), one of Jesus of Nazareth and the other of Our Lady of Slavery. He also worked in the Real Palacio in the 1760s under the direction of ...


Ricardo Descalzi

(b Quito, ?end of the 17th century; d Quito, May 31, 1773).

Ecuadorean wood-carver and painter. He was a pupil of José Olmos, and he set up his workshop in Quito facing the Franciscan monastery for which he worked. A versatile artist, he was also active as a gold- and silversmith, printer, and gunsmith. In 1736 Legarda carved his masterful Virgin of the Apocalypse or Winged Virgin of Quito (Quito, S Francisco), which was inspired by a painting by Miguel de Santiago. Legarda’s fine work reflects the mystical fervour of the legend it depicts. The twisting figure of the Virgin, trampling the head of a dragon underfoot, is balanced by her outspread arms and wings. Her face reflects the beauty of the mestiza, the mixed-race woman of Quito. Elsewhere in Quito, Legarda carved the Baroque altarpieces for the church of La Merced, the hospital and the churches of the Carmen Moderno and Cantuña, as well as the Crucifixion in this last church. In ...



Constantino Reyes-Valerio and Liliana Herrera

Term used to describe an exuberant architectural and sculptural style that developed in and around the city of Puebla, Mexico, in the 18th century. It is characterized by Baroque elements used in combination with ornate stucco, geometrically patterned red brickwork, and polychrome glazed tiles (Sp. azulejos), which were produced by flourishing local industries. The style developed in parallel with the growth of the city itself. As Puebla became wealthier and more important in the 17th century, increasing numbers of workshops were set up by ceramicists, many of them from Spain; Spanish artistic trends became more important, and these workshops came to exert a great deal of influence on the development of art in the city and surrounding villages. At the same time the growing wealth of the city financed the construction of religious and secular buildings that reveal their patrons’ and owners’ desire for luxury and display. Heavily ornamented mansions, as well as convents and churches designed in opulent styles reflecting the donations of affluent local merchants, farmers, and factory owners, all contributed to the evolution of an architecture rich in colour and imagination....


Ramón Gutiérrez

(b Enguera, Valencia, 1757; d Mexico City, Dec 24, 1816).

Spanish architect, sculptor, and teacher, active in Mexico. He studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de S Carlos, Valencia, at a time when Baroque forms were being rejected in Spain and Neo-classicism was being promoted. He was apprenticed to the sculptor José Puchol Rubio (d 1797), who also taught him extensively about architecture. In 1780 Tolsá moved to Madrid, where he studied under Juan Pascual de Mena and at the Real Academia de Bellas-Artes de S Fernando, where his subjects included painting. There he also designed several reliefs, including the Entry of the Catholic Kings into Granada (1784; Madrid, Real Acad. S Fernando). He was selected as an academician in 1789.

Following the endorsement of Juan Adán and Manuel Francisco Alvarez de la Peña, in 1790 Tolsá succeeded José Arias (c. 1743–88) as director of sculpture at the Real Academia de S Carlos de la Nueva España in Mexico City. He took with him a collection of plaster casts for sculptures, many books, and 154 quintals (7 tonnes) of plaster for the Academia. He arrived in ...