Juan Adán Morlán

Juan Adán Morlán, “Luchadores de Florencia (Wrestlers of Florence)”, 1773, Terra Cotta, 36 x 40 x 28 cm, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Born in March of 1741 in Tarazona, a provincial town of Zaragoza, Juan Adán Morlán was a Spanish painter and sculptor. The son of Juan and Manuela Morlán, he was baptized at the local parish church, Iglesia Parroquial San Pedro Apóstol, located in the town of Buenache de Alarcón. 

Juan Adán moved with his family around 1755 to Zargoza, the provincial capital, where he entered the workshop of Baroque architect and sculptor José Ramírez de Arellano. After being appointed sculptor to King Carlos III in 1740, José Ramírez had been commissioned in 1751 to oversee the work done at the capital’s Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar. Once the works at the Cathedral were finished in 1765, Juan Adán at the age of twenty-four traveled to Rome.

Juan Adán Morlán lived on the resources he had saved from his work at the Basilica until they were exhausted. He then approached Tomas de Azpuru y Jiménez, a native of Zaragoza and the appointed Charge d’Affaires of Spain who oversaw King Carlos III’s business in Rome. Through Jiménez’s assistance, Juan Adán received several commissions for work in Rome. Among these were sculpturing a copy of Camilo Rusconi’s 1718 marble “Saint John the Evangelist” and a drawing that was later presented to Francisco Preciado de la Vega, a scholar elected both prince and secretary of the Academy of Artists, as well as, an Arcade of the College of Roman Arcades.

Juan Adán was granted a pension from the government in October of 1767 and began work on new commissions in Rome. In 1773, he created his terracotta “Luchadores de Florencia (Wrestlers of Florence)” and sent it to the Academic Board in Rome which extended his pension. In the following year, Juan Adán created his “Compassio Mariae”, a terracotta sculpture of the Virgin Mary supporting the body of the dead Christ. This technical exercise was sent that same year to the Academy as a pensioner’s work. 

In January of 1775, Juan Adán Morlán was appointed an Academic of Merit at the Academy of Saint Luke in Rome. He reproduced his “Compassio Mariae” again in 1791 for the church of the Royal College of Pious Schools of San Fernando. For this, Juan Adán was appointed Academic of Merit of Saint Fernando. He returned to Spain in 1776, where the Lérida Cathedral council commissioned him to work in the city until 1782. During Juan Adán’s stay in Lérida, construction work authorized by King Carlos III was still proceeding at the new Cathedral of Lérida that would serve as a  replacement for abandoned Cathedral of St. Mary of la Seu Vella,. 

Juan Adán stayed in the province of Granada from 1783 to 1786, where he worked at a chapel in the city of Cámenes. He returned in 1783 to the king’s court in Madrid where he was appointed lieutenant-director of Sculpture under the directorship of Isidro Carnicero, who rose to his position upon the death of director Roberto Michel. In May of 1793, Juan Adán received the appointment of Chamber Sculptor to King Carlos IV, a honor which became effective in February of 1795. 

In 1795, Juan Adán Morlán sculpted the busts of Carlos IV and his wife Maria Luisa of Parma, the youngest daughter of Philip, Duke of Parma and fourth son of Philip V of Spain. Numerous portrait commissions at this time were made by the nobility; among these was the 1794 portrait of Prime Minister Manuel Godoy y Álvarez de Faria, Duke of Alcudia. In 1807, Juan Adán Morlán made the Relief of San Miguel at his chapel inside the Cathedral of Granada and, in the following year, created the Anteo Fountain in the gardens of Aranjuez. 

Juan Adán was appointed in 1811 the Director of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando. In 1815, he became Chamber Sculptor to King Fernando VII who, after the defeat of the French invasion, was again legally recognized by the 1813 Treatry of Valençay as King of Spain.. A year after his royal appointment, Juan Adán Morlán died in Madrid on the 14th of June in 1816. He was buried in the Puerta de Fuencarral Cemetery in Madrid.

Top Insert Image: Juan Adán, “Manuel Godoy y Álvarez de Faria, Duke of Alcudia”, 1794, Marble, 72 x 53 x 35 cm, Real Academia de Belles Artes de San Fernando, Spain

Second Insert Image: Juan Adán Morlán, “Moisés (Moses)“, 1775, Terracotta, 67 x 32 x 30 cm, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid

Third Insert Image: Juan Adán, “San Juan Evangelista (St. John the Evangelist)“, 1767, Terracotta, 70 x 40 x 28 cm, Real Academia de San Fernando, Madrid

Bottom Insert Image: Juan Adán Morlán, “Priamo y Hector (Priam and Hector)”, 1770s, Terracotta, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid

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