La Roldana, a Rococo woman sculptor

La Roldana, a Rococo woman sculptor
Isabel del Rio

by Isabel del Rio

Arcangel in El Escorial

Arcangel in El Escorial

Luisa Ignacia Roldán Villavicencio (yes, in Spain we have very long names), popularly known as ‘La Roldana’ (another Spanish peculiarity is to baptize a child with ten names to call him/her after by a short funny nickname), she was born in Seville in September 8, 1652. (For people who understand about horoscopes, she was Virgo and I have not met any Virgo who dies rich, neither her). She is recognized as one of the leading figures of the Andalusia Baroque sculpture of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries: that is, of the Rococo.

Her father was the sculptor Pedro Roldán and she started to study and to work with him, they didn’t get well (I think the generational gap is not only Spanish but international) and (of course) the father disagree with her marriage with Luis Antonio Navarro de los Arcos (another long name but… he also was Spanish) and both escaped to Cádiz, where they set up a workshop and earned a good living selling to local churches.

But a contemporary painter and art critic, Antonio Palomino, equaled in importance her work with his father and she went to Madrid to work for more important people and (even) for the kings (who used to not paying and less in years of bankruptcy). Her economic life started to have problems although, still today, people can see her sculptures in El Escorial and other royal places (all for fame).

She died in Madrid in absolute poverty being buried in the parish of St. Andrew in January 10, 1706.

What a personality!

Holly Family by La Roldana

Holly Family by La Roldana

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