Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 29



Siloe’s Success
Felipe Bigarny’s collaboration with Diego de Siloe on the
altarpiece in the chapel of the Condestable in Burgos soon turned
into bitter rivalry. Bigarny was by then approaching fifty and had
recently netted the highly prestigious tomb of the Condestables
which he carved in Carrara marble. Siloe was a young man
beginning to make a name for himself thanks, for example, to
the magnificent Escalera Dorada. It comes as no surprise, therefore,
that in 1528 Diego de Siloe left Burgos for Granada. There Siloe
started a new phase of his career, as an architect, commissioned
to produce “Roman” drawings for the new cathedral. His circular
capilla mayor or chancel appears to have been inspired by the Holy
Sepulchre in Jerusalem and has classical columns linking it to early
Christian Rome. Gómez-Moreno described it as “one of the most
surprising creations of [Spanish] architecture.”72 Siloe would be in
charge of building the new cathedral for nearly forty years, as well
as remodelling the church of the Hieronymite monastery nearby
and the sacristy of Seville Cathedral, and producing the tombs of
several senior clerics. His Virgin and Child medallion on the sacristy
door in Granada recalls the tomb of Bishop Acuña (fig. 26). It was
the Puerta del Perdón, one of three new entrances he constructed,
of which he was most proud (fig. 27). Finishing this door in 1537,
Siloe inscribed his initial into one of the niches, below the figure of
Fides or Faith.
Siloe’s commission at the Monastery of San Jerónimo was initially
the completion of the apse begun by Jacopo Fiorentino but left
unfinished when the Italian died in 1526. Siloe also carved a
beautiful set of choir stalls, each one carved with a verse of the
Psalms. For Wethey, it is Siloe’s relief of the Virgin and Child on the
prior’s seat which is his masterpiece, “the equal of the Madonnas
of Desiderio da Settignano and Antonio Rossellino” (fig. 28).73
Siloe’s renown is associated above all with this period, and he
earned enough to buy property, marry into the minor nobility, and
join several high-status confraternities.74 Despite this success, he
wrote melodramatically in 1447 to the duque de Sesa:
Ilustrísimo Señor: ya sería tiempo que V.S. volviese los ojos a estos
28
Fig. 23. Felipe Bigarny, Tomb of Gonzalo de Lerma,
que estamos desterrados en este valle de lágrimas, especialmente you
alabaster, Burgos Cathedral.
que estoy en tanta necesidad; pues con ella me e comido el dote de mi
Fig. 25. Felipe
muger y no me queda sino dar tras los vestidos, de que me pesa aver
Bigarny, Gideon,
Fig. 24. Felipe Bigarny, Virgin and Child, marble,
aprendido esta vida en el servicio de V.S….y eme quedado
wood, choirstalls,
Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid.
en el desierto.
Toledo Cathedral.
75
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