Fathers and Daughters in Sculpture workshops in early modern Spain:
Pedro Roldán and his daughters Francisca, Luisa and Maria Roldán;
Pedro de Mena and his daughters Andrea and Claudia de Mena
The lived experience of working women in early modern Spain was barely visible in the writings of their male contemporaries. As a model of female behaviour the quiet, devoted homemaker was much praised by male writers, but in reality, women were actively engaged participants in the economy. How did these gendered expectations play out in the families of early modern artists? The trajectories of members of two families, born in southern Spain within a few years of each other provide an interesting insight into this question. Pedro Roldán (Seville, 1624-1699) and Pedro de Mena (Granada 1628-1688) were renowned sculptors, both of whom had daughters and sons, whose adult lives reflect a range of individual responses to paternal and personal ambition.
Cathy Hall-van den Elsen studied Spanish art at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, completing her Ph.D (1992) on the life and work of Luisa Roldán.
After a period working outside art history Cathy returned to scholarship in 2005, contributing the introductory chapter to the exhibition catalogue Roldana published by the Consejeria de Cultura in Seville in 2007. In 2018 Cathy published a monograph in Spanish: Fuerza e Intimismo: Luisa Roldán, escultora (1652-1706), (Madrid, CSIC). In August 2020 her annotated bibliography on Luisa Roldán was published by Oxford Bibliographies Online, and in 2021 Lund Humphries published her monograph in English: Luisa Roldán. Cathy’s next project is a study of women artists in early modern Iberia.