Alonso Berruguete, Reinassance Sculptor - Page 88

Original Polychromy
Cloth elements:
Fig. 61 Base
The modelled, raised elements of the loincloth, which include the
of sculpture.
folds and the knot, are made of modelled canvas and are primed
to the wood-based elements (fig 66). Here the material is used for
Fig. 62 Detail of area
decorative and aesthetic purposes, in order to enhance the realistic
where heels join to
quality and plasticity of the loincloth. In this case it is tightly fitted
base of trunk.
whilst wet, based on antique precedent.
Fig. 63 Detail of
Further cloth elements in the sculptural ensemble are used as a
element consisting
means to assemble seamlessly its separately carved components.
of saint’s left hand
Technical analysis
On the basis of a visual evidence the wood is pine. The many, highly
concentrated growth rings suggest that it came from a centennial
tree felled in an arid, possibly mountainous environment (fig. 61).
The most prominent and visible application of this process can be
holding top of tree
seen on the trunk, behind the saint’s left arm, behind his head and
above it, just under the knothole. The joint between the base of the
sculpture and trunk is also filled with cloth.
Fig. 64. Detail of
canvas loincloth
decorated with
Gilded elements:
The loincloth, ropes, hair, and tree trunk are gilded with gold leaf
The sculpture is composed of four parts, as follows:
on red bole. The luminous, luxurious effect created by the loincloth
The first and largest part consists of the figure of the saint. It is
was achieved using estofado. A layer of white and ochre-coloured
noteworthy that the whole figure of the saint, including the base
tempera was applied on the loincloth. A stylus was used to draw
he stands on, is carved from one piece of wood (fig. 62). The hands
lines with an interval of circa 1 mm., as well as ornaments and
of the figure are separate, and integrated into respective and larger
motifs throughout in order to expose the gold underneath. Bands
constituent elements.
with floral ornaments were painted with tempera on those areas
that were not engraved as described in order to add variety and
The saint’s left hand, which holds the top of the tree trunk,
further enrich the overall effect of the fabric.
constitutes the second element (fig. 63).
Painted surface:
The third element consists of the saint’s right hand, which is holding the
The sculpture’s surface is painted with a greasy tempera with an
upper end of the loincloth. This ensemble is carved out of a single piece
oil component. Much of the painted surface of the sculpture is
of wood; the extension of the loincloth is made of cloth and decorated
in flawless condition and retains much of its glaze-like shine. The
with estofado (fig. 64). This is the term for the technique of painting over a
flesh tones, painted wet-on-wet, are cool and pale; the plasticity
layer of gold leaf with coloured paint, and then scratching patterns
of the body is accentuated by the application of varying tones of
into this overpaint to reveal the gilding underneath.
pink on the surface. The tonal transition from the flesh tones to the
hair and the loincloth is achieved with a greyish Umbra tone. The
Finally, the fourth element is the remainder of the tree trunk (fig 65).
mustache, beard and eyebrows are painted with thin lines. There
are dark contours under the eyelids above the grey-brown eyes with
In addition, two small pieces of wood have been found in the
black pupils (fig. 67). The realistic rendering of blood dripping
transitory area between the base and the trunk, with seams
from the saint’s wounds was executed with alizarin. The saint’s lips
concealed by fitted canvas fills. Visual evidence strongly suggests
Fig. 65 Detail of element consisting of base of tree trunk.
that all the constitutive elements of the sculpture are made of the
are greyish-red in tone; the colour of the upper lip is intensified
with alizarin highlights. Finally, the harmonious transition from
same pinewood, which corroborates the claim that all elements of
Fig. 66 Detail of loincloth made of modelled canvas primed
the face to the sculpted, gilded hair is achieved with thin strands
this sculpture seem to be original.
to wood-based elements.
painted in brown.

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