Great retable of San Benito el Real

Alonso Berruguete1526 - 1532

Museo Nacional de Escultura

Museo Nacional de Escultura
Valladolid, Spain

One of the most beautiful reliefs of the altarpiece. The scene is situated under a scallop that acts as an arcade. The center of the composition is the elegant and serene figure of the Virgin, adorned with a headdress of classic reminiscence, holding on her lap a robust Child that shows his sexuality as symbol of the human condition. Using a medieval tendency, both figures are bigger in size to emphasize their hierarchy. To the left, Saint Joseph contrasts with his calm stance but not without grandeur, the Three Wise Men with their energetic adoration. The figures, with defined volumes stand out for their monumental appearance. The work is structured in two differentiated groups that establish a connection through glances and gestures. Like this, a diagonal links Saint Joseph, the Child and Melchior's heads while the Virgin is linked to Balthazar. The density of the elements and figures in a minimal space, which forces the positions, and the mastery of figuration in emptiness, separate this work from renaissance postulates and clearly put it within the Mannerism movement. Chromatically this is a very warm piece with predominance of gold and ochre or pink from the flesh. The figures are outlined over the rich polychromy of the estofado technique and the base of the relief.


  • Title: Great retable of San Benito el Real
  • Creator Lifespan: 1489 - 1561
  • Creator Nationality: Spanish
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Toledo
  • Creator Birth Place: Paredes de Nava
  • Date Created: 1526 - 1532
  • place of origin: Monastery of San Benito el Real, Valladolid
  • Sculptor and painter: Alonso Berruguete
  • Original Title: Adoration of Magi
  • Type: Sculpture
  • External Link: CERES

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