Colnaghi Foundation Journal 02 - Page 169

Female power in Constanza de Castilla’s tomb
According to Ángela Franco Mata, the prioress’s tomb
was most likely built between 1490 and 1500, that is to
say, after Constanza de Castilla’s death.37 Nevertheless,
José María Azcárate attributed the tomb to the school
of Egas Cueman, linking it to the sepulchre of Inés de
Ayala (died 1453), currently located in the main chapel of
the church of Santa Isabel in Toledo.38 This hypothesis
has also been supported by Sonia Morales Cano.39
It should be remembered, as noted above, that
Constanza de Castilla promoted the foundation of a
royal chapel in Santo Domingo el Real in Madrid
where the tomb of Peter I of Castile was originally
located. His praying effigy is currently preserved next
to his granddaughter’s tomb in the Archaeological
Museum of Madrid (fig. 9). This funerary sculpture
has been dated to 1446, 1504 and more broadly, to
the beginning of the sixteenth century. Nevertheless,
as David Chao Castro and David Nogales Rincón
have pointed out, the funerary sculpture of Peter I was
likely executed between 1446 and 1464:40 in the royal
chapel’s constitution, Constanza de Castilla indicates
that she paid for both the transfer of her grandfather’s
remains and the creation of his funerary monument.
Peter I of Castile’s effigy must therefore have been
finished by 1464.41
Fig. 9 / Effigy of King
Peter I of Castile,
1446-1464, marble,
Madrid, National
For this reason, it would not be farfetched to think that
Constanza de Castilla perhaps commissioned her own
tomb once this funerary effigy was completed, that is
to say, between 1464 and her death in 1478. Indeed,
as María del Pilar Rábade Obradó has noted, in 1464
Constanza de Castilla seemed to fear the proximity
of her own death, perhaps due to ill health, as in that
year she not only finished writing the constitutional
document of her convent’s royal chapel, but retired
from the position of prioress after a fifty-year tenure,
keeping herself discreetly in the background from that
moment onwards.42
The iconographic layout of Constanza de Castilla’s
sepulchre is similar to that of the tomb of the
J OA N D E J OA N E S / Holy Family
Condestable de Castilla, Álvaro de Luna, in the chapel
of Saint James in the Toledo Cathedral, dated around
1489 and made by “Sevastian de Toledo, entallador de
ymagineria”. Furthermore, the tombs of Álvaro de Luna,
Constanza de Castilla and Alfonso Carrillo de Acuña
have been related, from a stylistic point of view, to
the workshop of this Sebastián de Toledo.43 However,
while various scholars identify Sebastián de Almonacid
as a sculptor trained in Egas Cueman’s workshop,
according to others, Sebastián de Toledo and Sebastián
de Almonacid were two different people. A precise and
complete catalogue of works by Sebastián de Toledo
and/or Sebastián de Almonacid awaits publication.44
In the Condestable’s tomb, Álvaro de Luna’s coats of
arms are also flanked by allegorical representations
of virtues, replaced by apostles on his second wife’s
tomb, a detail to which I will return later. Matilde
Miquel Juan and Olga Pérez Monzón have noted
traces of simulated brocade fabric under Álvaro de
Luna’s recumbent statue, no doubt specified by his
daughter, María de Luna, who commissioned her
parents’ tombs. According to the above-mentioned
authors, this textile element would have simulated
the lit de parade commonly used in funeral
ceremonies.45 Curiously, this same textile detail is
present in Constanza de Castilla’s tomb (fig. 10). It
may, therefore, be that the inferior quality of Sister
Constanza’s sepulchre is due to the fact that it was
one of the first tombs made by Sebastián de Toledo,
repeated and improved upon in future works.
Manuel Núñez Rodríguez has interpreted the
inclusion of four virtues in the iconography of
Constanza’s tomb as a panegyric to her moral
perfection in the battle against death, as well as
a summary of the Order of Preachers’ spiritual
aspirations.46 As I will argue below, however, these
sculpted allegories may in fact relate to Constanza’s
gender (figs. 5-8).


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