Juan Alonso Villabrille y Ron (c. 1663-1732),
Saint Paul anchorite, c. 1715
Dallas, Meadows Museum,
Photo : Dimitris Skliris
3/6/13 - Acquisition - Dallas, Meadows Museum - This is the only known terracotta by this sculptor today ; a Spanish artist from the late Baroque period, Juan Alonso Villabrille y Ron produced works in polychrome wood and stone, the only one of which has been acknowledged for sure is a very dramatic head of Saint Paul, dated 1707 and signed.
Now, the Meadows Museum has received a donation from Jo Ann Geurin Thetford, the bust of a hermit, dating from about 1715 and attributed to Villabrille y Ron, first identified as Saint Jerome but who is in fact Saint Paul, the first Christian anchorite, often represented as here dressed in a cloth of woven palm leaves. The realism of the body and the expressivity of the face are quite striking ; we find the same treatment of the rippling beard, the open mouth and the sunken eyes in other sculptures attributed to the artist such as Saint Joachim or the prophet Elias. This work rounds out the already rich holdings in Spanish Baroque at this museum which was created in 1962 from a collection of Spanish paintings belonging to Algur H. Meadows.
Juan Alonso Villabrille y Ron settled in Madrid around 1686 and received prestigious commissions, notably in 1723, for Saint Isidro and Saint Maria Torribia, known as Santa Maria de la Cabeza in Spain, for the Puente de Toledo in Madrid, then in 1726 for the statue of Saint Ferdinand for the entrance gate of that hospital, today the Museo Municipal also in Madrid. The artist collaborated with one of his students, Luis Salvador Carmona, for these three stone works. The Baroque Naturalism of Villabrille’s art recalls Gregorio Fernandez, while the spiral movement of his figures prefigures Carmona’s dynamism.
The Meadows Museum will soon be included in our itinerary section highlighting establishments in Texas.