Luisa Roldán (called "La Roldana")

Dates1652 - 1706

As court sculptor and the first woman sculptor recorded in Spain, Luisa Roldán reached the top of her profession. Her father was a sculptor in Seville, and Luisa and her siblings worked in the family workshop. At nineteen, she married a sculptor from the shop and became her family's primary source of income, working independently with her husband as polychromist. Roldán's figures are characterized by clearly delineated profiles, thick locks of hair, billowing draperies, and mystical faces with delicate eyes, knitting brows, rosy cheeks, and slightly parted lips.

From 1686 to 1688 Roldán was in Cádiz, carving wooden sculptures for the cathedral and working on statues for the town council. In 1688 she moved to Madrid to petition for the court sculptor's post, which was granted to her in 1692 and which she retained until her death. Among her creations was a wood St. Michael,which her son may have polychromed, as well as many small polychrome terracotta groups that she called "jewels." These were her most distinctive works, and probably unique at the time because groups were made to be appreciated for themselves and did not exist apart from architectural decoration. With their bits of still life, flowers, and animals, they prefigured Rococo porcelain groups.