Juan de las Roelas
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Juan de las Roelas, called El Clerigo Roelas and El Licenciado Juan, and 'Doctor Pablo' by Antonio Palomino, was descended from a noble family of Flemish origin. He was born in Seville between 1658 and 1660, and brought up to the profession of medicine (called 'physic' at the time). He had already taken his degree when an inclination to the art of painting, which he had manifested in the early part of his life, induced him to devote himself to its study; he subsequently travelled to Italy for that purpose, studying in Venice for several years. Palomino says that he was a student of Titian, but as Titian died in 1576, when Roelas was only sixteen years old, it is more probable that he received his instruction from a disciple of that great master.
On his return to Seville, he was much employed in the churches of that city, producing many of his best paintings, which have been compared to the works of Palma and Tintoretto. To his skill in the technique of employing rich and harmonious colouring, which he had acquired in the Venetian School, he added correct drawing and perfect acquaintance with the anatomy of the human figure. One of his most admired works is the Martyrdom of St. Andrew, in the College of St. Thomas. He went as a canon to Olivares in 1624, but whether he ever practised as a physician is not known.
His paintings are very numerous in Seville. His masterpiece is the Death of St. Isidore, in the church of San Isidore; another of his finest works is the St. James, in the chapel of that saint in Seville Cathedral, in which the saint is represented riding victoriously over the Moors. Cean Bermudez says it is full of fire, majesty, and decorum. The writer Richard Ford, well-versed in Spanish art, says, however, that it is surpassed by the picture of the Conception, in the Academy, and by three in the chapel of the University at Seville. Roelas has been compared to Tintoretto and Carracci, and is certainly the best of the Andalusian painters. It is a subject of regret that none of his fine works have been engraved, as he excelled in design and composition, and displayed a grandeur of form and character which belong only to the greatest masters. He died at Olivares in 1625.