Luisa Roldán, ‘la Roldana’, a baroque sculptor

La Roldana, whose real name was Luisa Ignacia Roldán Villavicencio, was born in Seville around 1652. With a father and brothers who were sculptors, she stood out among all and She became a chamber sculptress for Carlos II and Felipe V until his death in 1706. His works can be seen in the best museums and religious buildings of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Born with the gouge in hand

Luisa Roldán, known as la Roldana, was the daughter of the sculptor Pedro Roldán, who had trained in Granada with Alonso de Mena, one of the best sculptors of the Spanish Baroque. Thus, in the workshop of her father, Luisa, she would acquire a great background that, together with her own creativity, would take her to the top of the national scene.


His sculpture follows the guidelines of the Council of Trent to the letter in order to humanize the art that should make religion more accessible to the people. Therefore, the images of him seem real, of human feelings. It has a first stage in Andalusia and there is no self-respecting church or monastery that does not have one of his sculptures.

Main works of the Roldana and where to find them

La Roldana was one of the most versatile sculptors in Spain for his great mastery with the use of multiple materials. Thus, she herself indicated that she knew how to use clay, wood, bronze, stone, etc. And, in addition to sculpting, she knew how to polychrome and gild.

In Seville there are many examples of his art, some made with her husband, also a sculptor, who would surely be in charge of signing the contracts. Others she would do in collaboration with her father, like the angels for the passage of the Christ of Exaltation.

It must be taken into account that the sculptress did not sign her works at that time, which is why some have been attributed to her because of her style and composition. It is the case of the Virgin of the Macarena Or the Virgin of the Star.

After his transfer to Cádiz he would begin to sign their own contracts and works. This is documented in the contract to carry out the Ecce Homo of the Cathedral of Cádiz, in which she signs as ‘distinguished author’. There she too would make the sculptures of Saint Servatius Y Saint German by order of the Cabildo of the city and that today are in its cathedral.

At the same time, he would carve works for municipalities in the area, such as the Christ Recumbent and the Virgin of Solitude for the church of La Victoria in Puerto Real or the two lamp-bearing angels and the Nazarene for that of El Puerto de Santa María.

What’s more, received other commissions for numerous areas of Andalusia, as the Virgin of the Angels for the old convent of the Franciscan Fathers of Puente Genil and the Ecce Homo of the church of San Francisco de Córdoba.

La Roldana, sculptress of the Court

Seeking to improve, he moved with his family to Madrid. There he performs several works to make himself known. highlights The rest on the flight to Egypt, heavily influenced by Michelangelo. It should also be mentioned The mystical betrothal of Saint Catherinework that is in the Hispanic Society of America of New York.

Finally, after several years of waiting, In October 1692, La Roldana was appointed chamber sculptress. However, this appointment brought him more economic hardship than the desired well-being that he had sought for her and her family by moving to Madrid.

He was paid late or was not paid the salary that the appointment implied. And she was not granted a room or clothes as she was entitled to because she was a chamber sculptor. From this time is the Archangel Saint Michael with the devil at his feetwork commissioned by the king for the monastery of El Escorial.

Also from this period are the milk virgin of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Archangel Saint Michael of the monastery of the Descalzas Reales and the six passionate angels of the Collegiate Church of San Isidro. Numerous were the commissions he received, but he never received them as his contemporary men did.

A) Yes, at the end of his life, he made a ‘poor declaration’ and, to make matters worse, her works began to be attributed to other artists, most of them to her father and her husband, but also to others such as Martínez Montañés. Fortunately, recent investigations and restorations are finding the true author of it, restoring the merit of the work and its great contribution to the Spanish Baroque.

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