Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 43

The Valladolid period
These were difficult years for Berruguete, but, despite the failure
of some projects, he remained eager to establish himself. He
succeeded on 1 October 1523 when he was given the position of
Escribano del Crimen for the Chancery in Valladolid, requiring
him to establish residency in that city, which he did three years
later in 1526. That year he also married Juana de Pereda, resident
of Medina de Rioseco and, on 14 February 1527, he obtained the
right to establish an entailed estate or mayorazgo. His son Alonso
was also born in 1527 and would be followed by three more
children, Luisa, Petronila and Pedro. This was when he built his
home and workshop in front of the church of San Benito and
secured what he had always so desired – a position of privilege
in the city of Valladolid as a member of the Royal Court and
Chancery. He was also able to prove his nobility as a descendant
of a noble family from Biscay, the Berroeta.
This was when Berruguete began his most fruitful period,
obtaining the commission for the polychromed wood retable
of the monastery of Mejorada, in Olmedo, which during the
ecclesiastical confiscations of the nineteenth century, passed into
the collection of the Museo Nacional de Escultura in Valladolid
(fig. 34). As Berruguete had not yet gained sufficient prestige to
Fig. 35. Alonso
complete works on his own, he signed the contract in 1523 with
another sculptor, Vasco de la Zarza. When the latter died only a
Retable of
year later, Berruguete was free to develop his own personal style.20
Mejorada (Olmedo),
Museo Nacional
As the more well-known artist, Vasco de la Zarza (active 1508-24)
de Escultura,
has been considered the author of the retable’s design. All the
subsequent work, however, including the reliefs of the lives of Christ
and the Virgin, the Birth of the Virgin, the Annunciation (fig. 35), the
Fig. 36. Donatello,
Nativity, the Agony in the Garden, the Road to Calvary, the Crucifixion,
Tabernacle of
the Resurrection, and the Ascension, presents all the characteristics of
Berruguete’s style. The same is true of the small sculptures of the
predella including Saint Catherine, Saint Anthony of Padua, and the
Penitent Saint Jerome (the latter having been identified as the relief
the Annunciation,
Cavalcanti Chapel,
Santa Croce,
currently in the church of Santa María la Real de Nieva, Segovia).
The originality of Berruguete’s style – with his stylized and highly
Fig. 34. Alonso Berruguete, Retable of Mejorada (Olmedo), Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid.
expressive models – can be appreciated in each of these scenes.
Croce in Florence (fig. 36). Furthermore, to ornament the retable
The Italian influence can also be seen in the composition of the
Berruguete took motifs from classical antiquity that he would then
scenes in relief. As has already been pointed out, the Annunciation
repeat throughout his career, such as colonnaded balustrades,
was derived from the work by Donatello for the tabernacle of
griffins, masked grotesques and, above all, cherubs placed between
The Annunciation in the Cavalcanti Chapel of the church of Santa
the foliate decorations composed of laurel leaves, fruit and lyres.21

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