He learned architecture from his father, Miguel Cano; painting in the academy of Juan del Castillo, and from Francisco Pacheco the teacher of Velázquez; and sculpture from Juan Martínez Montañés. As a sculptor, his most famous works are the Madonna and Child in the church of Lebrija (also called Nebrija), and the colossal figures of San Pedro and San Pablo.
He was made first royal architect, painter to Philip IV, and instructor to the prince, Balthasar Charles, Prince of Asturias. The King gave him the church preferment of a canon of the Granada Cathedral (1652), in order to take up a position as chief architect of the cathedral, where his main achievement in architecture was the façade, designed at the end of his life and erected to his design after his death.
He was notorious for his ungovernable temper; and it is said that once he risked his life by committing the then capital offence of dashing to pieces the statue of a saint, when in a rage with the purchaser who begrudged the price he demanded. According to another story, he found his house robbed after coming home one evening, his wife murdered, and his Italian servant fled. Notwithstanding the presumption against the fugitive, the magistrates condemned Cano, because he was of a jealous temper. Upon this he fled to Valencia, but afterwards returned to Madrid, where he was put to the torture, which he endured without incriminating himself, and the king received him into favour.
After the death of his wife he took Holy Orders as a protection from further prosecution, but still continued his professional pursuits. He died in 1667. In his last moments, when the priest held to him a crucifix, he told him to take it away because it was badly carved. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the dying Cano refused the Sacrament from a priest who gave it to conversos. Probably this version is spurious as many others about his life and temperament.
- San Vicente Ferrer (praying)
- Virgin of the Olive Tree (1629)
- Inmaculada del Facistol (1655–1656) in the sacristy of the Cathedral of Granada.
- Virgen of Bethlehem
- Bust of Saint Paul
- Head of San Juan de Dios
- Christ Bound to the Column in the church of the Convento del Stmo. Cristo de la Victoria de Serradilla (Cáceres).
- Entrance of the Cathedral of Granada
- Saint John the Baptist as a Youth 1634, in the National Sculpture Museum (Valladolid).
- St. Anthony Preaching to the Fishes (ca. 1630) [The Detroit Institute of Arts]
- Christ and the Samaritan Woman(ca. 1650-1652) Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando Madrid.
- The Death of Saint Francis. Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid.
- The Christ Crucified (c.1646) Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando.
- The Crucifixion
- Saint Anthony of Padua
- The Crucified Christ appears to Saint Teresa
- A king of Spain
- Two kings of Spain
- The Miracle of the Well
- Saint Bernard and the Virgin
- The Virgin and Child
- The Dead Christ supported by an Angel
Immaculate Conception, c. 1618–20, attributed to Velázquez or Cano
Saint John and the Poisoned Chalice, c. 1635–37
Cristo y la Samaritana, Christ and the Samaritan woman, 1640
Christ Gathering his Robes, 1646
Cristo crucificado, Christ on the cross, 1646
Christ and Two Followers on the Road to Emmaus, between 1635 and 1650
Ideal portrait of a Spanish King, 1643
St. Vincent Ferrer Preaching, c. 1644–45
Saint Bernard, c. 1656–60
Antony of Padua, 1660–62
Saint John the Baptist
- Paintings of Alonso Cano on Insecula
- Scholarly articles about Alonso Cano both in web and PDF @ the Spanish Old Masters Gallery
- Alonso Cano on Artcyclopedia
- Jusepe de Ribera, 1591-1652, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which includes material on Alonso Cano (see index)
- Alonso Cano – Catholic Encyclopedia article
- public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cano, Alonzo". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 189. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the
- Chisholm 1911.
- Anonymous, "Alonso Cano" in Retratos de Españoles ilustres con un epítome de sus vidas, 1791.
- Marvin, Frederic Rowland (1900). The Last Words (Real and Traditional) of Distinguished Men and Women. Troy, New York: C. A. Brewster & Co. p. 30.
- Cano, Alonso. "Christ and the Samaritan Woman". Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- Cano, Alonso. "Death of Saint Francis". Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- Cano, Alonso. "Christ Crucified". Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- Cano, Alonso. "Works by Alonso Cano". Museo del Prado. Retrieved 13 April 2020.