Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 38



Alonso Berruguete and
the Spanish Renaissance
Rosario Coppel
“The significance of the Mannerist revolution in the history of art,
which would create completely new canons of style, essentially
consists in the conscious and intentional divergence of the paths of
art and naturalism.”1
Two fundamental incidents changed the course of Alonso
Berruguete’s life. Firstly, the sudden death of his father Pedro
Berruguete, in 1503, when he was only fifteen years old and a
painter’s apprentice; secondly, the momentous discovery in Rome
of the classical statute of Laocoön and his sons that revolutionized
the history of art. If his father had lived, the success of Alonso’s
trip to Italy – with his father’s help, experience and the contacts
Pedro had established from having worked at the court of Urbino
– would have been guaranteed. However, the visit would have
been limited to one or two years, as was usual for young artists that
went to Italy to complete their training. Instead Alonso Berruguete
stayed in Italy – in Florence and Rome – no less than thirteen
years, between 1504 and 1517. This would not have been the case
had his father lived. Pedro Berruguete held a position of prestige
amongst Spanish painters of his time, and would have expected
his son to return soon to his workshop. Alonso’s life would,
furthermore, have been much easier working in and taking over
such a prosperous enterprise. It is also likely that he would have
dedicated himself solely to painting, which was his first occupation.
In Florence, Alonso Berruguete integrated himself into the group
of painters that were active in the early Mannerist movement,
copying the most well-known works of the great masters
such as the frescoes of Masaccio, the famous Battle of Cascina,
Michelangelo’s cartoon of the work that could be found in the
Sala del Maggior Consiglio, in the Palazzo Vecchio (fig. 29), and
Leonardo’s paintings. According to Vasari, he finished the work
37





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