Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 26



Fig. 17. Diego de Siloe, Tomb of Bishop Luis
de Acuña, alabaster, Burgos Cathedral.
Fig. 18. Diego de Siloe, Escalera Dorada, stone,
polychromy and gilding, Burgos Cathedral.
Fig. 19. Diego de Siloe, the Holy Family in the
Presentation in the Temple, polychromed stone,
Capilla del Condestable, Burgos Cathedral.
Fig. 20. Diego de Siloe, Ecce Homo,
polychromed wood, Convent of
las Dueñas, Palencia.
Diego de Siloe appeared in 1519 back in Burgos, producing
have produced the Saint Sebastian in nearby Barbadillo attributed
the tomb of Bishop Luis de Acuña, beneath his own father’s
to him by Gómez-Moreno (see fig. 69 in Rosario Coppel’s text
altarpiece (fig. 17). The contract for the Acuña tomb specifies its
on Berruguete’s Saint Sebastian.)59 In 1523 Siloe started on the main
measurements, its material – alabaster – and its decoration.57 This
altarpiece in the Capilla del Condestable, the funerary chapel
includes four coats of arms sustained by winged monsters, one on
of Mencía de Mendoza (Cardenal Mendoza’s sister) and Pedro
each side of the sarcophagus, and figures of the seven Virtues. Siloe,
Fernández de Velasco. This altarpiece, like the one produced by
true to his Italian training, did not polychrome the alabaster, and
Diego’s father, Gil de Siloe, in the Acuña Chapel, is made from
his decorative scheme is restrained. Like the figures on Fancelli’s
carved and polychromed wood. Ironically, Diego signed the contract
tomb for Prince Juan, Siloe’s Virtues are inspired by Pollaiuolo’s on
for this work in collaboration with Felipe Bigarny who had by this
the tomb of Sixtus IV. Indeed, Siloe reinstates one of Pollaiuolo’s
time replaced his father as the most important sculptor in Burgos.
Liberal Arts, “Grammar,” to ensure symmetry. Although Siloe’s
design is not as elaborate as Fancelli’s, it is in some senses closer to
Diego’s contribution to the Condestable’s altarpiece is generally
Pollaiuolo’s (for example in the outward curve of the base,) and it is
agreed to include the Holy Family in the beautiful Presentation
clear that Siloe had himself seen the work in Rome. Siloe’s Charity,
in the Temple (fig. 19). The graceful figures seem to reference
on the other hand, recalls Donatellos’s Virgin and Child relief from
Florentine painting, and the woman carrying the basket of doves
the Casa Pazzi in Florence, reprising the motif of the Madonna
on her head is comparable to the figures in Lippi’s Madonna and
pressing the Holy Infant against her cheek. Perhaps on account of
Child tondo from the Pitti Palace and Ghirlandaio’s Birth of John
the very small sum paid to Siloe – 200 ducats, in contrast to the
the Baptist in Santa Maria Novella.60 The Christ on the Cross and
2,000 promised to Ordóñez for the monument to Cardinal Cisneros –
scenes from the Passion at the top of the altarpiece are imbued
some of the carving is thought to have been done by assistants.
with a new physicality and dynamism which prepare the way for
processional figures by Gregorio Fernandez and Juan de Mesa a
Four months later, Siloe received a contract for the Escalera Dorada
hundred years later. The almost-fetishistic lacerations in Diego’s
in Burgos Cathedral’s north transept. Completed by 1523, this
roughly contemporary Ecce Homo in the convent of las Dueñas
staircase is considered one of the outstanding creations of the
in Palencia (fig. 20) and Christ at the Column in the chapel of Santa
Spanish Renaissance (fig. 18). The prototype appears to have been
Tecla in Burgos Cathedral recall the shocking figures from Swabia
the Bramante’s Belvedere Court of the Vatican Palace, unfinished
and Franconia that had influenced his father, ensuring that the
when the architect died in 1514 but probably known to Siloe
expressive surfaces of that tradition were passed on to later
through models. It is also in this period in Burgos that Siloe may
generations of Spanish sculptors.
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