Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 66

different expressions in the sotobanco as well as in the predella
In the choirstalls of Toledo Cathedral (1539-1542) we see another
and spandrels, decorated with scrolls, cherubs, and a double lyre
profusion of children in the decorative programme of the framework
which surrounds the central cartouche (fig. 58). Finally, two other
of the templete (little temple) at the top finished in gilded bronze (fig. 61);
cherubs crown the exterior columns of the altarpiece, each of
in the archbishop’s throne (1543-1548); and in the area behind where
them seated on the edge of the cornice of the main body of the
there are pairs of cherubs crouching down and separated by wreaths
altarpiece, and from whose feet hang clusters of fruit (fig. 59).6
– like the monumental ones that appear on the front –, making
every sort of gesture and carved from alabaster (fig. 62).
In the retable of San Benito (1526-1532) we once again find a
In one of his last works, the sepulchre of Cardinal Tavera in the
Virgin, which display no less than fourteen different postures.
Hospital de Tavera, Toledo, which was made from Carrara marble
There is also the infant in the relief of the Adoration of the
between 1551 and 1561, there are many infantile figures. There
Shepherds, another in the sculpture of Saint Christopher, and one
are three children in the medallion of Charity (see fig. 48); there are
that appears in the painting of Saint Mark (see fig. 51). But the
also pairs of children on the ends, at the effigy’s head, and above
most important is the series of six pairs of infants, of which four
the roundel with the relief of the Imposition of the Chasuble on Saint
Fig. 62. Alonso
survive, that decorated the upper-most part of the second tier of
Ildefonsus, as well as another two that stand and hold Tavera’s coat
Berruguete, detail
the retable (fig. 60). These pairs are even more directly related
of arms, which they cover with a cloth held up with one hand.
from the retrochoir
to the Putti. In two cases, those that are closest to the centre of
At the effigy’s feet, the pair of angels above the relief of Charity,
of Toledo Cathedral.
the retable, they do not turn their backs but are front-facing,
holds a cartouche with an inscription; these are very similar to
separated by a pillar and holding a vessel containing fruit in one
the previous ones, the only difference being their robes which are
arm. The model is the same as in the Putti presented here, with
larger and with more folds. Finally, along the sides of the sepulchre
Fig. 58. Alonso Berruguete,
the same proportions, treatment of volume, and leg positions,
slab there are small angels humbling themselves in front of death
ornamental fragment with
the front one always bent at the knee and the heel lifted. In
which is represented by a skull. All of these are infantile figures,
the third case, the postures of the children are different: one is
plump and with curly hair, and in postures that are typical to the
almost fully frontal while the other has his back turned, and in
work of Alonso Berruguete (fig. 63).
double lyre, detail from
the retable from Mejorada
(Olmedo), Museo Nacional
Fig. 61. Alonso
multitude of cherubs in the central relief, the Assumption of the
Berruguete, gilt-bronze
infant, detail from the
retrochoir of Toledo
the centre is a column that is missing its upper part that would
de Escultura, Valladolid.
undoubtedly have been a fruit bowl as is the case with the other
On the other hand, and as we have seen, Alonso Berruguete used
ones. But it is the fourth pair that resemble the Putti the most.
alabaster on a number of occasions such as for the sepulchre
Here the children lean on a balustrade column in a similar
of Selvagio in Saragossa and in the choir stalls, retrochoir, and
manner and they are more dynamic as a result of the sinuous
archbishop’s throne in Toledo Cathedral. Another alabaster work
posture of the one on the left who also has his foot resting on
by Berruguete has recently been discovered: the Pietà, in relief,
the base. The face and very curly hair are also identical, but
housed in the chapel of Cigarral de Menores, in Toledo, and
above all the composition formed by pairs of infants within a
which has been dated to the beginning of the artist’s period in
central architectural and decorative element is very similar. In
Spain, around 1520 (see fig. 54).8
addition, in the pillars of the predella we see the motif of the
lyre repeated once again.7
Also attributed to Alonso Berruguete are Two reclining infants,
measuring 16 x 27 cm (6.3 x 10.6 in), today housed in the Instituto
This iconographic repertoire is repeated in the retable of the
Gómez-Moreno of the Fundación Rodríguez Acosta in Granada.
Colegio de Santiago el Mayor (also known as the Colegio de
(fig. 64).9 Symmetrically positioned to create a small pediment, they
Fonseca) in Salamanca, which features the same types of columns
carry garlands of fruit and have remains of gilding in their hair.
Fig. 59. Alonso Berruguete,
Fig. 60. Alonso Berruguete,
ornamental fragment,
detail of one of the pairs of
and a profusion of vegetal decoration on all of the architectural
detail from the retable from
infants from the Retable on the
elements. These can also be seen in the central panel and the
On the basis of all that has been stated above, a few hypotheses
Mejorada (Olmedo), Museo
main altar of San Benito el Real
relief of the Nativity in the retable of the Epiphany in the church
may be advanced on the origins of the Putti. Firstly, the
Nacional de Escultura,
(Valladolid), Museo Nacional de
of Santiago in Valladolid, which furthermore repeats the same
iconography refers to a relationship between life and death,
Fig. 63. Alonso Berruguete, Shield of Cardinal Tavera, detail from the tomb
Escultura, Valladolid.
general decorative scheme.
symbolized by the lyre that represents earth and heaven.
of Cardinal Tavera, Hospital de Tavera, Toledo.

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