Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: Pedro Berruguete (Spain, late 15th century



Figure 1.--Berruguete portrait Federigo de Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, is a Renaissance masterpiece. It provides a charming view of the home of a famed Italian mercenary of the age with his son which was painted about 1480. Duke Federigo commissioned Joos van Gent to decorate the library and study of his palace with allegories to the liberal arts as well as portraits of both Biblical and pagan thinkers. Although printing had begun in the mid-15th century, books were still exceedingly valuable and Duke Federigo was especially proud of his library.

Pedro Berruguete is one of the earliest great Spanish artists. Painting as he did during the 15th century, most of his work was on religious themes. There were, however, some important secular portraits. We do not know a great deal about Berruguette at this time. We know he worked in Italy, especially in Urbino, for some time. His portrait Federigo de Montefeltro provides a charming view of the home of a famed Italian mercenary of the age with his son which he painted about 1480. This is the first known reference to Beruguete and his first known work. The famed condottiere, Federigo di Montefeltro, duke of Urbino, had commissioned Joos van Gent to decorate the library and study of his palace with allegories to the liberal arts as well as portraits of both Biblical and pagan thinkers. Berruguete apparently collaborated with van Gent as well as painted the Duke. Later in life Berruguete provides us a more sobering image of the era--a view of the Holy Inquisition painted about 1500.

Parents


Childhood

We know nothing about Berruguete early life at this time. We believe that details on his early life are unknown.

Training

We susepect that Berruguete was trained in Italy as his work is so advanced over most Dpanish painters of his era. Some art experts also see a Flemish influence.

Career

Pedro Berruguete is one of the earliest great Spanish artists. Painting as he did during the 15th century, most of his work was on religious themes. There were, however, some important secular portraits. We do not know a great deal about Berruguette at this time. We know he worked in Italy, especially in Urbino, for some time.

Federigo de Montefeltro

Berruguete portrait Federigo de Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, is a Renaissance masterpiece. It provides a charming view of the home of a famed Italian mercenary of the age with his son which was painted about 1480. This is the first known reference to Beruguete and his first known work. Duke Federigo commissioned Joos van Gent to decorate the library and study of his palace with allegories to the liberal arts as well as portraits of both Biblical and pagan thinkers. Although printing had begun in the mid-15th century, books were still exceedingly valuable and Duke Federigo was especially proud of his library. Berruguete apparently collaborated with van Gent as well as painted the Duke.

Family

We know little about Berruguete's family except that he had a son Alonso who became a notable artist and sculptor in Toldedo. He wa Beruguette's second son who was in involved in his early instruction.

The Spanish Inquisition

Later in life Berruguete provides us a more sobering image of the era--a view of the Holy Inquisition painted about 1490-1500 (attributions vary). Berruguete's view shows The St Dominic, sitting beneath the canopy, presiding over an Auto-da-fé, burning of heretics. This is a symbolic presence. St. Dominic lived in the 12-13th centuries and was long dead by the time of the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century. The order he founded, the Dominicans, was however used by the Church to root out heretics. They were the order which ran the Inquisition throughtout Europe. Berruguete worked during the last years of the Reconquista. The last Moorish territory, Granada, fell in 1492. Moors and Jews were forced to convert or leave Spain. Some stayed in Spain, but practiced their religion in secret. During the peiod in which Berruguette's image was painted (some time in the 1490s), most sentenced to an auto-de-fé were Moors and Jews who had converted to Christianity but who were suspected of practising their former religion in secret. I am not sure what happened to the families of these men. Berruguete presumably witnessed such an auto-de-fé and the burning of such heretics. They were important public specticals of the time. Despite the fictional presence of St. Dominic, his painting appears to accurately depict an auto-de-fé during the 15th and 16th centuries. His image shows the reprieve granted penitents who wear pointed hats. They were required to watch the buring of those not repreived as an object lesson and warning. Those condemned were throtted before burning.






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Created: March 30, 2004
Last updated: March 30, 2004