Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 83

Fig. 70.
Damián Forment,
Saint Sebastian, monastery
of Poblet.
Fig. 71. Saint Sebastian,
wood relief, choirstalls,
1538-42, Toledo
In 1534, Alonso Berruguete began a new phase when Tavera
sculpture retains after subsequent layers were painstakingly
was named Archbishop of Toledo and turned to him for the
removed by hand is in better condition than on any other
production of the cathedral’s choirstalls; in this endeavour
sculpture attributed to the artist. It clearly and masterfully
Berruguete would work in collaboration with Felipe Bigarny with
exemplifies all of the characteristics associated with Alonso
whom he had worked at the start of his career. The representation
Berruguete in terms of iconography, technique, style, and
of Saint Sebastian in one of the carved wood reliefs (fig. 71) is made
polychromy. This sculpture, certainly one of his masterpieces on
in a different manner, which serves to appreciate the sculptor’s
account of its size, quality and extraordinary condition is one
evolution. The young martyr stands beside the tree trunk to his
of the most important discoveries of a work by the artist, and
left, his left arm raised and tied to the trunk, his right arm behind
constitutes an historic addition to the catalogue of one of the
his back. The anatomical study presents more muscle and the
most brilliant artists of the Renaissance in Spain.
facial features are classically beautiful. With unruly hair, the left
leg jutting forward, and the head tilted upwards, the work is more
directly linked to the figures of Siloe and Forment than with
Berruguete’s saint in Valladolid and the one studied here.
Berruguete returned to Saint Sebastian in two other works: the
alabaster relief above the choirstalls in Toledo – a very similar
composition to the one in the carved wood relief and apparently
n ot e s
by his workshop – and another in the painted retable of the chapel
of the Mazuelas in the church of Saint Ursula (also in Toledo),
from the end of the 1540s.5
G. Duchet-Suchaux and M. Pastoreau, La Biblia y los santos, Guía iconográfica, C. Vidal,
Spanish ed. (Madrid: Alianza, 2003), pp. 350-351.
2 Ten years of Coll & Cortés, (Madrid: Coll & Cortés, 2014), p. 18, IV.
3 Valladolid, Museo Nacional Colegio de San Gregorio. Colección, M. Bolaños Atienza, ed.
The exceptional quality of the sculpture of Saint Sebastian studied
here has been revealed through a rigorous process of conservation
between 2014 and 2016. The original polychromy which the
(Madrid: Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, 2009), pp. 108-115.
4 M. Arias Martínez, Alonso Berruguete, Prometeo de la escultura (Palencia: Diputación
Provincial, 2011), p. 106, fig. 4.
5 Arias Martínez, Alonso Berruguete, p. 170, fig. 94.

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