Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 81

The faces of the two figures express the pain and anguish of
martyrdom, and, although serene, they convey distress. Although
the polychromy is very similar, in the Valladolid version the
suffering is accentuated by small wounds painted on the body
and on one arm and imitating blood, while in the version studied
here the martyrdom is manifested more concretely with the
four arrow-holes. The model that Berruguete created for the
representation of Saint Sebastian is derived from the Dying Slave
by Michelangelo for the mausoleum of Julius II, now housed
in the collection of the Louvre (fig. 66). This sculpture and
its companion, the Rebel Slave also in the Louvre (see fig. 31),
were highly acclaimed and influential from the moment they
were created, and they must have been seen and admired by
Berruguete during his stay in Rome. Recently, Berruguete’s Saint
Sebastian has been linked to another design by Michelangelo from
the same period, made for the vault of the Sistine Chapel, that
Fig. 68. Andrea
of the prophet Haman who is also attached to a trunk in a very
Mantegna, Saint Sebastian,
similar pose (fig. 67). 4
Museum, Vienna.
Fig. 69. Diego de Siloe,
Saint Sebastian, parish church
of San Sebastián, Barbadillo
de Herreros, Burgos.
There are, however, other aspects of the iconography of Saint
Leaning on a tree trunk, the martyr’s right arm is raised above
Sebastian that must be taken into account in order to fully
the head and the left lies alongside the body. The head is inclined
understand the evolution of the representation of the martyr. One
to the left, the hair long and curly and the face idealized – almost
of the most significant earlier representations of Saint Sebastian
child-like – and there are no signs of wounds or arrows on the
was the one by Andrea Mantegna around 1470 which presents a
body. The difference between the two statues is in their expression
young man who accepts his martyrdom with resignation, without
of classical beauty, Siloe adopting the proportional canon based
evidence of suffering, his gaze eagerly directed towards heaven in
on eight heads and perfectly-balanced contraposto. The artist had
anticipation of the reward of eternal life (fig. 68). The influence
already included a similar model in the Carraciolo Altarpiece in
that Mantegna had on other sculptors is clear and can seen in
San Giovanni a Carbonara in Naples. Like Berruguete, Siloe used
other works by Berruguete, especially in the expressive force and
as his model the Dying Slave by Michelangelo.
sculptural character which he gave his protagonists.
There is another extant statue closely related to Siloe’s, the
Fig. 66. Michelangelo, Dying slave, Paris, Musée du Louvre.
Fig. 67. Michelangelo, Haman, vault of the Sistine Chapel.
In Spain, we find the marble Saint Sebastian of Diego Siloe (1490,
alabaster Saint Sebastian by Damián Forment made between 1520
Burgos-1563, Granada), measuring 83 cm in height including the
and 1531 for the monastery of Poblet. Here the young soldier
plinth, dated to around 1525 and housed in the parochial church
looks upwards, his hands behind his back; it is a precise anatomical
of Santa Isabel in Barbadillo de Herreros, near Burgos. This work
study, with legs crossed and a loincloth, which brings to mind in
is considered one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance (fig. 69).
its classicism the figure in Barbadillo de Herreros even if it is more
The composition of this statue is very similar to that of Berruguete.
frontally oriented (fig. 70).

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