Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 62



Putti
ca. 1520-1530
Alabaster
55 x 35 x 15 cm
(21.7 x 13.8 x 5.9 in)
Rosario Coppel
On an irregular base which includes a small altar, two standing
putti turn their backs to the viewer and blow on musical instruments
shaped like horns. The putti are naked and hold the instruments
with both hands. A balustrade column in the centre, on which
the putti lean, rises from the altar. This pillar ends in a sculpted
medallion crowned by a cherub’s head surrounded by vegetal
decoration. The putti are short, infantile figures with rounded faces
and puffed-out chubby cheeks, thick lips, and very curly hair. The
head of the cherub on the upper part of the ensemble has the same
facial features, and from its wings, which are on either side of the
head, spring ornaments of leaves and fruit. In the small roundel,
there are the painted remnants of a cupid’s face. The altar which
functions as the base is decorated with a lyre and a circle. The
composition is frontally oriented and, although the sides have been
made with care so that the bodies of the putti are in high relief, the
back is less finished and flat in some places. The back of the base
near the feet has been cut down, and there is long and deep orifice
that indicates that the piece was attached to a structure or wall.
An iconographic analysis of this work shows that it was made
as part of a programme seeking to represent the relationship
between life and death. The lyre on the front of the small altar
which serves as a base seems to symbolize the sound which would
emit from the horns on the sides of the structure, heralding the
union of earth and heaven. This ornamental detail is also related
to the instruments played by the putti, which suggests that the
work may have been created as part of a funerary monument or
a retable, crowning one of the pillars or base elements that made
up the monument.
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