Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 56

The dissemination of his style
Berruguete’s influence on contemporary sculptors such as Damián
Forment 43 and Juan de Valmaseda44 is clear, as it is amongst
his assistants, Francisco Giralte, Isidro Villoldo and Inocencio
Berruguete, his nephew and collaborator on the choir stalls of
Toledo Cathedral,45 not to mention Juan Bautista Vázquez “the
Elder” in Seville.46
One of the most significant works of this period was the tomb of
Gutierre de Vargas Carvajal in the capilla del Obispo, attached to
the church of San Andrés in Madrid. Made by Francisco Giralte
between 1547 and 1550 (fig. 55), it exemplifies the difficulty of
replicating Berruguete’s style although it is a masterpiece within its
genre. It is related to the mausoleums made a short time afterwards
by Pompeo Leoni, especially that made for the inquisitor Salas in
the Sala de los Infantes (Asturias) with its dignified relief of the
Transfiguration. But the Giralte work lacks the vitality that Alonso
Berruguete gave to his own works.
By the second half of the sixteenth century, Berruguete’s models
had circulated across the peninsula, from Castile to Aragón, the
Basque country, Rioja and Andalusia, with a profusion of religious
works that reflected the power of the Church and deep-seated
Whether Pompeo Leoni was directly influenced by the works of
piety of that period. Juan de Juni (1506-1577) succeeded Alonso
Berruguete is unknown. But it cannot be forgotten that, in spite of
Berruguete in Castile, although his style differs significantly.
everything, the Italian ended up fulfilling all the same function as
Similarly trained in Italy, he instilled in his works even greater
Berruguete in the creation of works of religious nature. Amongst
drama while always searching for perfection in his models.
these are the grandiose retable of the basilica of El Escorial,
though in this he adopted the use of an unusual material for this
Nevertheless, it must be remembered that there were new trends
period, bronze, which in terms of classical beauty contrasts with
arriving from Italy during this period. For instance, Pompeo Leoni
the style of Alonso Berruguete.49
arrived in Valladolid in 1556 and could have, during the next five
years, come to know Berruguete personally, though the latter was
Finally, in terms of painting, it is beyond doubt that Berruguete
based in Toledo. Until that period only sculptures on essentially
had a significant impact on another genius of the Renaissance, El
religious themes had been produced in Spain. Pompeo Leoni –
Greco. This influence presents itself not only in the few works of
who would bang heads with that tradition to the point of being
sculpture attributed to El Greco, such as the Imposition of the Chasuble
accused of Lutheranism and being sentenced by the Inquisition to
on Saint Ildefonsus, finished in 1587 for the retable of the sacristy
live in a monastery for a year – had to adapt to this environment,
of Toledo Cathedral, or the Epimeteo and Pandora in the Museo del
which he did by securing a clientele of cultured diplomats who had
Prado, but also in his paintings. It may even be said that El Greco’s
lived in Italy. Contrary to Berruguete, who rarely worked for the
genius was to painting what Berruguete’s was to sculpture. Both
monarchy – perhaps because that position had been snatched by
admired the world of Antiquity but were able to interpret it in their
Gaspar Becerra – Pompeo Leoni had, since his arrival in Spain,
own unique manner, as demonstrated in the interpretation of the
depended first on the protection of the Princess Juana of Austria
Laocoön painted by El Greco in 1609 and which is today conserved
and then on that of Prince Carlos.
in the National Gallery of Art in Washington (fig. 56).49
Fig. 55. Francisco Giralte, Tomb of Gutierre de Vargas Carvajal, Capilla del Obispo, church of San Andrés, Madrid.
Fig. 56. El Greco, Laocoon, National Gallery, Washington.

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