Detail of the work

Pedro Berruguete’s career was notably different to that of other Castilian painters of his generation due to the fact that his family was from the minor nobility and was connected with the Manriques, Counts of Paredes, and with the Mendozas, as the Countess of Paredes was a member of that prominent Castilian family. While most Castilian artists of this time looked to the north of Europe, Berruguete set out for Italy, probably around 1472 or 1473. The style of the work that he produced in Urbino, particularly the double portrait of Federico de Montefeltro and his son Guidobaldo, and his work on the completion of the portraits of famous men begun by Justus of Ghent in the studiolo in the palace in Urbino allow Berruguete to be identified as the “Perus Spagnolus” who is documented in that city on 14 April 1477.

Rather than learning to depict space using orthodox linear perspective, which was totally alien to him, during the time he was in Urbino - one of the leading cities of Quattrocento Italy - Berruguete focused on the study of the human body in movement (in contrast to the static forms of the early Quattrocento) and also had access to classical models.

After his return from Italy in or before 1483 Berruguete became the first Renaissance artist working in the kingdom of Castile. He retained his knowledge of what he had learned in Italy as well as of the Flemish tradition in which he had trained. His works of between 1483 and 1503 reveal his debt to Italian art although they lack the quality and painstaking technique of those produced in Italy, as the type of paintings commissioned from him in Castile were very different to those in demand in Italy and he was consequently obliged to adapt his style to these new requirements. Nonetheless, to some extent all of Berruguete’s paintings reveal the influence of Italian art without renouncing his Flemish training or native Castilian affinities. While it is the inclusion of Renaissance buildings and decorative elements that most clearly reveal the influence of Italy in his works, the tastes of his patrons and Berruguete’s desire to reproduce the reality of everyday life in Castile (just as Flemish and Italian artists reproduced their own surroundings) explain why he also made use of the Gothic and mudéjar styles, as we see in Virgin and Child enthroned from the City Council’s collection.

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