Colnaghi Collections_Vol 01 - Page 68

Figs. 7.1 & 7.2. Alonso
Berruguete, Prophets
from the San Benito
Altarpiece, polychrome
wood, Valladolid, Museo
Nacional de Escultura.
The technique, prototypes, and style place these works within
interpretation of Roman figures is original, portraying the bust
The physiognomies of the characters in these tondi are
the oeuvre of Alonso Berruguete. Shortly after his return to
frontally, but turning the head in profile, thereby breaking up
characteristic of Berruguete’s work. The fine nose, prominent
Spain around 1517, following an extended period of training
a purely linear axis. This device was probably inspired by the
cheekbones, slanted eyes, strongly accentuated frown between the
in Italy, Berruguete emerged as the most original sculptor
Plateresque façade of Salamanca University, where Catholic
brows and open mouth are all observable in works like the Saint
of the Spanish Renaissance. His artistic career began in
monarchs and other eminent personages are represented in
John in the Calvary scene of the main altarpiece in the monastery
the workshop of his father, the painter Pedro Berruguete,
tondi, while portraits of Roman emperors and generals emerge
of Nuestra Señora de la Mejorada de Olmedo (fig 7.4).67 The
through whom he gained a deep understanding of drawing
from scallop shells.2
carving of the Roman Senator’s hair, with abundant locks and the
and pictorial technique. These skills, together with his quick
forelock a little separate, recalls that in the figure of Isaac in the
and masterful handling of the gouge, made polychrome wood
Decorative busts regularly feature in works by Berruguete.
relief of the Sacrifice of Isaac (fig. 7.5) or the Conversion of Zalla the Goth
sculpture a perfect expressive medium. Motifs taken from the
Among the most closely related are the Prophets in the upper
(fig. 7.6), both in the San Benito Altarpiece. Also characteristic of
classical world consistently featured in his designs throughout
register of the altarpiece of the San Benito el Real convent,
Berruguete’s style is the engaging glance exchanged between the
his career.
Valladolid (fig. 7.1 & 7.2); two Male Busts set in the top of the
Roman Soldier and Senator which functions as a decorative device,
central portion of the altarpiece in the chapel of the College
directing the viewer’s gaze. Other characteristics typical of Alonso
Berruguete frequently included busts of this kind in the structure
of Santiago el Mayor (or Archbishop Fonseca) at Salamanca
Berruguete’s style are the stiff clothing, the polychromy, the
of altarpieces. Such decorative elements are based on Italian
University (fig. 7.3); and the medallions with Busts in Laurel
rendering of flesh, and the background with vegetal decoration.
models, inspired by antiquities (Roman mosaics, sarcophagi,
Leaves on either side of the uppermost tier of the Epiphany
medals, reliefs, busts of emperors, etc.) However, Berruguete’s
Altarpiece in the parish church of Santiago Apostol, Valladolid. 5
R osario C oppel


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