Sculpture Journal

Celebrating Alonso Berruguete: art history and Spanish identity before and after the Civil War

Sculpture Journal (2021), 30, (1), 53–70.

Abstract

The article focuses on the national reception of the Spanish Renaissance sculptor and painter Alonso Berruguete over the twentieth century. It considers the artist’s critical fortunes, from the first monograph dedicated to Berruguete in 1917 to the erection of a monument in Palencia on the fourth centenary of his death in 1961. This article shows how Berruguete was used to consolidate a modern image of Spain and Spanishness, along with El Greco and others from the pantheon of Iberian art. This agenda, in which his works were interpreted in terms of spiritual realism and Catholic orthodoxy, was carried forward despite the dramatically changing ideological context before and after the Spanish Civil War. In this context, Berruguete was selected as a symbol of the true essence of the Spanish soul by critics such as Elías Tormo and Eugeni D’Ors. The framing of Berruguete in terms of this specific art historiography - to which this study devotes critical attention for the first time - can be considered one of the reasons for the modern interest in Berruguete and provides an important background for any study on the sculptor.

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Author details

Mozzati, Tommaso