González Quesada, Juan Cristóbal

Juan Cristobal Gonzalez Quesada

Spanish sculptor of the early twentieth century. He was a member of the tertulia of El Rinconcillo at the Café Alameda with many of the intellectuals and artists of Granada at that time: Francisco and Federico García Lorca, Manuel de Falla, Hermenegildo Lanz, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, José Mora Guarnido, etc. He was the sculptor of the group.

Some of his works are well known: El Cid Campeador in Burgos, the monument to Julio Romero de Torres in Córdoba or the statues of Manuel de Falla and Ángel Ganivet in Granada.

He was born in Ohanes, Almeria. When he was a child his father emigrated to Argentina and he stayed in Granada with an aunt. He began studying in the workshop of Nicolás Prado Benítez and at the School of Arts and Crafts. He soon moved to Madrid, with a scholarship from the City Council of his town, and entered as an apprentice in the workshop of Mariano Benlliure. He trained, above all, copying classics in the Museum of Artistic Reproductions. He began to be known in 1917 with an exhibition at the Madrid Athenaeum and with the award of the National Exhibition of Fine Arts. He specialized in urban art and monumental images. Some of his works are well known: El Cid Campeador in Burgos (from 1955), the monument to Julio Romero de Torres in Córdoba (from 1934, inaugurated in 1940) or the statues of Manuel de Falla and Ángel Ganivet in Granada.

The latter is from 1921 and is located in Tomato Square, in the gardens of the Alhambra. It was a sculpture that raised great controversy at the time. The idea of erecting a sculpture to Ganivet arose in 1908 in the city on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the death of the author. The project did not see the light until 1918 when a group of young people from the Centro Artístico of Granada, headed by Melchor Fernández Almagro, took up the idea again. Juan Cristóbal offered to work for free. The monument aroused an angry reaction in some sectors of the city. First, because of the place chosen for its location and, later, because of the theme: a naked man taming a goat. Constantino Ruiz Carnero, journalist and later director of El Defensor de Granada, harshly attacked the work.

The work of Gonzalez Quesada influenced the work of Federico Garcia Lorca who accompanied the sculptor one afternoon to see goats to take notes. Federico included in his Book of Poems one entitled The Goat, undoubtedly inspired by this experience.

In 1933, he was one of the founders of the Association of Friends of the Soviet Union. He exhibited his work on many occasions. In 1958, his exhibition at the National Library of Madrid stands out; in 1972, the one at the Circle of Fine Arts or another at the Palace of Carlos V. In the last years of his life he settled in Avila. He died in Cadalso de los Vidrios in 1961.

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