Monastery of San José and Museum
The exterior of the church is typical Antequera Baroque, while an interesting Museo Conventual is to be found inside.
Founded in 1632, this convent house is popularly known as Las Descalzas.
The highlight of the exterior is the elegant, square porch which formed part of the original building and the Baroque faèade of the present-day church, an early 17th century structure attributed to Tomás de Melgarejo.
The church exhibits a Latin Cross ground plan with a single nave and shallow crossing arms. Its spatial volumes and perfectly-elaborated details confer an air of great beauty on the building’s projection.
The main altarpiece is distributed into three aisles and finishes in a half point. The main niche contains an interesting early 17th century image of the Virgen del Carmen, while the side walls are decorated by a number of paintings depicting, among others, the Virgen del Silencio and San Miguel Arcángel.
On either side of the main chapel, the crossing features two altarpieces dating back to the same period which bear sculptures of Santa Teresa, an exquisite 18th century image, and San Josê (early 17th century). When the latter lost its head as a result of an electrical flare-up during a particularly violent storm, the nuns decided to commission a replacement by the sculptor Andrês de Carvajal, placing the original in a glass cabinet where it can still be viewed today in the Sala de la Soledad at the Museo Conventual.
The crossing arm houses a small, Rococo altarpiece which features a delightful Virgen del Tránsito dressed in sumptuous garments. Above this hangs an interesting canvas of Jesús Ciado con la Cruz a Cuestas by Antonio Torres.
The nave is home to some of the church’s finest paintings, including the Virgen Guadalupana (1709), the 17th century Jesús a la Columna and the fascinating San Josê con el niño y San Juanito by Pedro Atanasio Bocanegra.
The highlight of the side wing of the Gospel is also one of Antequera’s most famous compositions, La Virgen con el Niño adorados por San Miguel, San Gabriel y San Ildefonso y Santa Catalina, also by Bocanegra.
Though the whole of the convent enclosure is a veritable museum, special mention must be made of the section known as the "Sala de la Santa", which is dominated by a life-size, seated, dressed image of Santa Teresa flanked by two magnificent sculptures by the Neapolitan artist Nicolás de Fumó of San Josê. and the Inmaculada dating back to 1705, not forgetting a silver relic holder which contains a letter signed by the Avila saint.
Theres is a museum located in the convent of the Carmelitas Descalzas order and was inaugurated in 1999. It is the result of the desire and effort of the nuns themselves to display an their own extensive art collection, of immense artistic value and never before unveiled to the general public.
Entry is via the door of the Iglesia de San Josê, which is the first port of call on our visit and is described later in its own section.
Proceeding through the sacristy, we come to the Museum’s upper rooms, though not before stopping to admire pieces such as a mirror from the time of Velázquez, an ivory figure of Christ and several XVIII-century oil portraits of important figures from the Indies connected with the convent.
A staircase takes us up to a gallery filled with lattices and glass urns which in turn leads to the museum’s three rooms: Tribuna, San Luis and Soledad. The patio of the convent with a fountain at its centre can be admired from all three.
At the centre of the room is a bust of the Dolorosa by the Granada sculptor Pedro de Mena. Its walls are adorned with a large collection of the works of the Mannerist painter Antonio Mohedano, the highlight of which is a painting of San Miguel Arcángel venciendo al demonio with its strong mixed race American influences.
In the same room, a glass wall cabinet contains an interesting collection of images of the Baby Jesus, figures from the mystery of Bethlehem and numerous articles of silverware. Also worthy of note for its unusual nature is an image/replica of the Virgen del Rosario kept in a magnificent urn made of tin and glass.
SALA DE SAN LUIS:
Of particular note here are the magnificent sculptures of the Inmaculada and San Josê, created by Nicolás Fumo in 1705, and one of the museum’s most prized possessions, a small sculpture of El Niño Jesús Pastorcito, attributed to Francisco Salcillo.
Finally, mention should be made of the display case which houses a significant collection of silverware, the highlight of which is a XIX century relic holder containing a letter signed by Santa Teresa dating back to 1577.
SALA DE LA SOLEDAD:
Its name is a reference to the half-body dressed image of the Virgen de la Soledad, a XVII-century work by the Antequera sculptor Antonio del Castillo. On display here is one of the museum’s finest sculptures, the Virgen de Belên, an exquisite piece attributed to Luisa Roldán, known as "La Roldana".
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Jesús Romero Benîtez, Guîa Artîstica de Antequera