Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 41



The return to his country
Alonso Berruguete’s return is first documented in Valladolid in
1518, when he is recorded as in the service of Carlos V (1500-1558),
and referred to as a “magnificent Señor” and “Painter to the
King.” Not long afterwards, he is recorded again in Saragossa
forming a partnership with Felipe Bigarny to produce the tomb of
Chancellor Selvagio.
The great Flemish chancellor, Jean le Sauvage (hispanicized to Juan
Selvagio) died in Saragossa on the 7 June 1518, and was interred
in the chapel of Saint John the Baptist in the Royal Hieronymite
Monastery of Santa Engracia.13 The building was destroyed in 1808,
during the War of Independence, and, sadly, only a few fragments
of the funerary monument survive, today in the Museo de Zaragoza.
The most significant, an Angel holding a heraldic shield, in alabaster and
measuring 76 x 40 x 25 cm, has been dated to between 1519-1520
(fig. 32). Thanks to a description by Jusepe Martínez in his treaty,
Fig. 33. Alonso Berruguete
Discursos practicables del nobilísimo arte de la pintura (written ca. 1675)
(attributed), Drawing for the
we know that the sepulchre was composed of an arched niche
decoration of the stern of a
supported by Ionic columns and containing a frieze that framed
royal gallery, The Hispanic
14
Society of America,
the scenes and figures. On its front, there was a Resurrection of Christ,
New York.
flanked by heraldic motifs, and within the niche lay the effigy of the
deceased. The ensemble also included two pedestals with allegorical
figures of Virtues in high relief and measuring seven palmos (147 cm).
Fig. 32. Alonso Berruguete, Angel holding a heraldic shield from the tomb
of Chancellor Selvaggio, Museo de Zaragoza, Saragossa.
For his part, Felipe Bigarny (Langres, ca. 1475-Toledo, 1543) already
the Imperial Armada. According a royal warrant issued in Barcelona
At that time, also in Saragossa, the sculptor Damián Forment
enjoyed a great deal of prestige when he formed a partnership with
on 29 September 1519, the Bishop of Burgos, Juan Rodríguez
(1480-1540) was finishing the retable for the high altar of the
Berruguete for the production of the tomb of Chancellor Sauvage.
Fonseca (1451-1524), was in charge of preparing the Armada
basilica del Pilar, also in alabaster. Forment had been trained
He was Master of the cathedral of Burgos, had workshops in various
that was to take the Emperor and his entourage from Coruña to
in Valencia in the workshop of his father that was dedicated to
Spanish cities, and had already completed retables for the cathedral
Flanders.17 Berruguete must have designed the ornamentation of the
the production of wooden retables including both painting and
of Haro, the University Salamanca, the chapel of the sacristy of
sails, standards and flags, and a drawing recently attributed to him
carvings. Though he worked in the Late-Gothic tradition, Forment
Palencia Cathedral and, along with Andrés de Nájera, the choirstalls
is associated with the endeavour. This is the Upperdeck of the stern of a
was influenced by the harbingers of the Renaissance in that city
in Burgos Cathedral. It was in Burgos that Bigarny settled, buying a
royal galley, in the collection of the Hispanic Society of America, New
– Paolo de San Leocadio, Yáñez de la Almedina and Fernando
house next to La Moneda palace and joining forces with an artist who
York, closely relating to the ornamental repertoire that the artist had
de Llanos – as can be seen in his first works, the retable of the
would become one of the great sculptors of the Spanish Renaissance,
imported from Italy and used in his first works (fig. 33).18
basilica del Pilar in Saragossa, as well as those of the churches
Diego de Siloe (1495-1563). Siloe had returned from Italy in 1519.
of San Pablo and San Miguel de los Navarros, the latter carved
Together Bigarny and Siloe created the retable of the chapel of the
A few years later, in 1521, Berruguete moved to one of the most
from polychromed wood. It took a multitalented artist with great
Condestable in Burgos in 1523 and, between that year and 1526,
active artistic centres of the time, Granada, where he completed
drawing skills and great ambition to simultaneously open workshops
they worked on the retable of the cathedral’s high altar. Later on
sketches and cartoons for the paintings of the Capilla Real and
in Saragossa, Poblet and la Rioja. Although it is unknown whether
Bigarny would produce the tombs for the chapel of the Condestable,
its sacristy. There he coincided once again with Felipe Bigarny,
he ever travelled to Italy, it is certain that he benefited from the
a masterpiece of this genre of sculpture.
perhaps even following Bigarny’s trail. It is easy to imagine the
16
dazzling effect this artist had on Berruguete, and how he could
same influences as Alonso Berruguete. It is possible, however, that
40
Forment absorbed these influences through engravings, by Dürer,
While he was engaged in work on the mausoleum in Saragossa, Alonso
have seen him as a model, not only in terms of his art, but also, as
Marco Antonio Raimondi and Domenico Veneciano.
Berruguete participated as Court painter in designing the decoration of
discussed below, in terms of his life.19
15
41





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