The Salzillo Museum, Museo Salzillo, Murcia
The Salzillo Museum celebrates the work of Francisco Salzillo
The Museo Salzillo, the Salzillo Museum
Francisco Salzillo is one of Murcias most emblematic sculptors, working at a time when the exuberance of baroque art and architecture was changing the city, coinciding with a time of frantic economic and social expansion.
Click here to read an introduction to Francisco Salzillo, Click Francisco Salzillo
His works are so important that a museum has been dedicated to his lifetime, incorporating the Iglesia de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, the headquarters of the Real y Muy Ilustre Cofradía de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno which holds the famous pasos carried in the Good Friday procession of Semana Santa, known as La Procesión de los Salzillos. This is one of the most important processions of the Easter week, and is certainly one of the most popular for spectators.
If you´re not able to be in Murcia to witness the procession, make a point of visiting this museum to gauge a feeling of the artist and the power of the pasos, strong, exuberant and expressive examples of the best in baroque sculpture.
Also on display is the Belén, the nativity scene sculpted for the Marqués de Riquelme, a magnificent work comprising 556 pieces which is one of the most important beléns in Spain and certainly the most significant in Murcia.
The Salzillo Museum, Museo Salzillo
Plaza san Agustin, 3
Click for map, Museo Salzillo
Tel 968 291 893
Moday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sundays 11am to 2pm
Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm
Saturday & Sunday closed
There is an entry fee.
A Visit to the Museo Salzillo
This museum is well structured and logical, with excellent information boards in dual languages.
The museum follows a logical course, exploring the works of the sculptor and the topic of the baroque Semana Santa.
The baroque movement of which Salzillo is so representative, was, to put it simply, born of a 16th Catholic canon, the Council of Trent (1543-63) which dictated that paintings and sculptures used within the context of religious art should speak to the illiterate rather than the well informed, the spawning of which was the effusive and directly simple depictions favoured by the baroque. The movement is obvious, dramatic, bold and splendid in its exuberance and detail, glorifying God in the most shameless and expressive style.
This era was about show, and worshippers were left in no doubt as to the glory of God by the acres of gold leaf employed, triumphant alterpieces soaring to the heavens, luxurious decoration and saints leaving none in doubt as to their holiness and misery, suffering in the name of their lord.
Churches and Cofradias competed to honour their God in the most splendid manner possible, and Salzillo was the superstar of the sculptural world, his pieces the prize possessions of those who so proudly bore them through the streets as a symbol of the wealth and prestige of their Cofradia.
This first section celebrates the rich robes worn by the original pasos, silk an important product of the murcian economy. It celebrates the rite of Semana santa and the pieces which participated in the rite, tantalising glimpses of the church beyond amidst the standards and processional pomp, the baroque desire for theatrical splendour celebrated by the skill of Salzillo.
The second sala is known as the Sala de los Bocetos.
This includes a collection of terracotta models made by the sculptor and were the collection of Sánchez Tapia, a murcian sculptor who was a great admirer of Salzillo and give an extraordinary insight into his work.
It´s incredibly rare for pieces like this to have even survived, and it is due purely to the esteem in which this sculptor held the master, that they survived at all. These pieces are in fact the miniature scale models made of larger pieces which the sculptor planned to execute and were an essential component in the process of creating full scale pieces.
When a commission was received for a piece, preliminary drawings would be prepared, from which a small terracotta model was then formed. This would enable the sculptor to amend the position of limbs or the inclination of a head or hands. From this the final working model could be prepared, gridded up to enable the sculptor to accurately reproduce the model full scale.
In this room, visitors can see the tools used in the creation of these pieces, together with a selection of the original terracotta models, some clearly marked up with the lines from which the sculptor would work.
The magnificent Belén was made by Salzillo for the nobleman Jesualdo Riquelme y Fontes, comprises 556 pieces and was made in the last years of Salzillo´s life between 1776 and 1783, although his workshop under the care of Roque Lopéz, completed the final pieces in 1800.
It´s a remarkable piece of work, not only a piece of great religious and artistic significance but a window into murcian life and the characters Salzillo would have seen around him in the City at that time.
He is said to have invited rag bedecked blind beggars to his studio so that he could model them accurately, and the lavishly dressed huntsmen shooting wildfowl in the marshes, together with their hunting dogs and beaters are known to be authentic portraits of the count himself and his aristocratic friends.
Every aspect of murcian life is represented from the slaughterman killing and skinning sheep for the evening meal, to the marketplaces selling fresh fruit and vegetables and the old man sitting in rags by a fire.
Silk clad court attendants strut through the palace grounds whilst women fight to save the lives of their offspring from the slaughter of the innocents, sleeping shepherds are visited by delicately modelled angels and daily life goes on whilst the drama of the nativity unfolds.
Moving out of the sala and into the Iglesia itself there are two figures of particular importance en-route, La Santa Mujer Verónica (1755)and San Juan Evangelista, (1756) both of which participate in the Good Friday procession.
Iglesia de Jesús, The pasos of Holy Friday, the procession of the Salzillos.
Inside the church are 5 Pasos by Salzillo and one by Juan de Aguilera, the figure of Christ with the cross, Nuestro Padre Jesús.
1754 Oración en el huerto
One of the most famous works by Salzillo. it is composed of two groups; one the angel holding up Christ, and in the other three of the apostles sleeping. Angels were habitually presented by Salzillo as being if indeterminate sexuality, with beautiful faces and a serene air of untouchable beauty.
In this group the three apostles are shown with distinctive characteristics- San Juan sleeping deeply, head on outstretched arm, Santiago bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders in uneasy sleep, and San Pedro even though asleep, still in a state of watchful and protective alertness.
La Caida, the fall. 1752
In this group Jesus falls, guarded by a soldier wearing 17th century armour, two executioners and Simon of Cyrene.
The Last Supper
This piece weighs 1362 kilos, and is carried by 28 Nazarenos in the Good Friday procession. It´s a vast piece of sculpture and at the time of manufacture cost 27,749 reales, equivalent to 6.937 pesetas, which was a lot of money at the time.
It comprises Jesus and the twelve disciples, sharing the last supper . It´s been undergoing a restoration process and will take place in the procession of 2011, which will be it´s first showing after restoration In its place there are currently photographs of the piece, showing the incredible detail of the piece, each of the disciples with his own character defined, emphatic gestures and expressive detail.
Prendimiento, The capture of Jesus.
Another of the famous Good Friday pasos.
This shows Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene, comprising the figures of Jesus, calm and impassive and Judas Iscariot, carved together from a single block, San Pedro, Malco and a Roman Soldier.
San Pedro, Saint Peter, is a miracle of sculpture, blood vessels in his arm standing out as he brandishes a sword in fury over the servant Malco, a dramatic, powerful piece, laden with drama and tension.
This is the last piece made for the Cofradía de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, at a time when Salzillo was in decline and most of his commissions were coming from outside of the capital.
Although it is a strong and dramatic piece showing the flagellation of Christ, it lacks his characteristic detail and tension, Christ passively accepting his torment, although typically of Salzillo, those beating Christ are wearing murcian dress contemporary with the date of sculpture.
Churches in Murcia which contain Salzillo´s.
If you are interested in discovering more about the works of Salzillo and seeing more of his pieces, you may enjoy tying a visit to the museum in with a visit to one of the churches which hold his works.
The nearest one to the museum is the
Monasterio y Iglesia de las Agustinas de Murcia, about a 2 minute walk away.It has a bold figure of San Agustin by Salzillo and a beautiful figure of Saint Cecilia delivered by Roque López, Salzillo´s most important pupil, in the year of Salzillo´s death, although now attributed entirely to López., . It is only open during mass, so click here to find out more information, Monasterio y Iglesia de las Agustinas de Murcia
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