The life of San Juan Bautista ended the day in which Salomé demanded that Herod cut his head as a prize for his sensual dance. Hegel said the story always repeats twice and, for the disgrace of San Juanito (or San Juan Bautista child), that's how it was. The statue that in the sixteenth century the Italian genius Michelangelo Buonarroti with the figure of the child preacher ended in 1936 with his head cut. It happened in Úbeda, in the sacred chapel of the Savior, the place that was his house for hundreds of years and who sheltered the only piece in Spain attributed to the famous sculptor.
Arsenio Moreno, Professor of Art History at Pablo Olavide University and Expert in San Juanito, asks for prudence when attributing the statue so freely to Michelangelo. In the talk of him with Loc tells that the first biographers of the artist, such as Vasari and Condivi, speak of a San Giovannino (San Juanito) sculpted by him in his youth. There are no more data that point to the destination of the statue and, therefore, there have been tens of hypotheses about which it could be. Among all of them, the one that has more strength is that which points to that figurine of 140 centimeters of height that one day was in Úbeda, thesis endorsed by the famous archaeologist and historian Manuel Gómez-Moreno. The fact that the sculpture is almost identical to the one who painted Michelangelo in the Madonna of Manchester make the balance decline in favor of him.
How did a Miguel Angel come to Spain? You have to go back to the Florence of 1537. Cosme I de Medici establishes the power of it in the city thanks to the support of King Carlos I of Spain. As a reward, he offers you properties and gifts and, among them, is San Giovannino. Miguel Ángel was already 62 years old.
The Emperor of the Germanic Empire, however, is a generous man and knows that his achievements are not only his. The secretary of him, Francisco de los Cobos, is and has been a vital person for the good evidence of the empire of him, so he decides to reward him with the statue.
However, here does not end the history of Francisco de los Cobos. There is another important part to mention. He was no noble, but he had been a very important person for the king, so he decides to marry someone who is, María de Mendoza, one of the most important families of the time. The Son of Marriage will be Diego de los Cobos, who will be born noble and, in addition, will receive as a gift from the King the title of Marqués de Camarasa, who currently holds the House of Medinaceli. This makes San Juanito becomes owned by the Medinaceli, who administer their heritage through the Casa Ducal de Medinaceli Foundation.
We now return to the beginning of the story. The background were important to understand what happened after 36. Arsenio Moreno is not only Professor of History of Art, is also an expert in the history of Úbeda, his city, something that witnesses in his last novel, Galapago, so he Its involvement in the history of San Juanito goes beyond the professional, handling all the data to detail. "On July 26, 1936, the Church is assaulted, they take a good part of their works to the square and turn them on fire, one of them was San Juanito. The pieces are collected later, although some probably fell into the hands of individuals . The figure is completely ruined, so the remains in protected spaces of the church are deposited. "
However, in 1991 the miracle occurs: the head was thrown into the fire, but it was not destroyed. In fact, they locate it at the Museum of Fine Arts of Granada. The Foundation of the Medinaceli, then decides to repair the San Juanito. It is sent to the Florence Restoration Center and there is 25 years until 2013. "Something more than 50% of the piece is authentic, the rest reconstructed," explains Moreno, who would not know what is the current value of the piece: " I think it's impossible to say ".
The return to the life of the San Juanito is celebrated in the world of art and, even an international congress is celebrated. There the employers, that is, the foundation, agree that the piece will return to Úbeda. However, he does not. In 2015, it is exposed for three months in Museo del Prado and its trail is lost. Moreno does not know how to say exactly where it is and the Foundation has not answered the calls of this supplement. "The City Council and the House Ducal have signed several complex agreements," explains the professor. On the one hand, the consistory wants it to return to its natural place. On the other, the foundation dilates the operation until a safe place is built for it. "The important thing is that it seems that the topic is taking its final steps after years of meetings and disagreements," said the art expert, who comments very excited about this last part: "His natural site is El Salvador and that is part of the story of a work of art. You have to go home. He is awaited and he will be received with open arms. "Updated Date: 20 October 2021, 04:14