- Nicolas Rodríguez Juárez, Mexican, 1/5/1667-7/10/1734
- Born: Mexico City, Mexico
In the lower left corner of this painting is the signature of the artist Nicolás Rodríguez Juárez (1667-1734), a member of an important family dynasty of painters active in Mexico City for over one hundred years. Nicolás’s maternal great-grandfather and grandfather were the renowned painters Luis (active 1610-39) and José Juárez (1617-1661/2), while his father Antonio Rodríguez (1636-1691/2) was also a noted painter. In the early 1700s, Nicolás and his brother Juan Rodríguez Juárez were the leading painters of their day. In addition to two paintings by Nicolás Rodríguez Juárez, the DAM collection includes examples by the founding father Luis Juárez, by an apprentice of José Juarez, and several examples by Juan Rodríguez Juárez.
This painting is one of many small-scale images made for private devotion by Nicolás Rodríguez Juárez and other members of his family. It depicts the head of Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. As a bright light illuminates his face, Joseph looks up to the heavens with his mouth parted in an apparent ecstatic state. Rodríguez Juárez’s masterful use of strong contrasts between light and dark heightens the emotional drama of the moment. The abstracted halo that radiates from the Saint’s head is boldly painted in gold pigment and makes a dynamic juxtaposition to Joseph’s lifelike face, painted by Rodríguez Juárez in a soft and delicate manner. The artist’s inclusion of his signature, also painted in gold, not only calls attention to his role as the image’s creator, but signals his own devotion.
--Sabena Kull, 2017-18 Mayer Fellow for Spanish Colonial Art
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