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Who is Pedro Berruguete?

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By Gwylym Owen

Pedro Berruguete (c. 1450 – 1504) was a Spanish painter whose art is regarded as a transitional style in the company of gothic and Renaissance art. Berruguete most famously created paintings of the first few years of the Inquisition and of religious imagery for Castilian retablos. He is considered by some as the first Renaissance painter in Spain.

He was the daddy of Alonso Berruguete, considered the most important sculptor of the Spanish Renaissance. Because of the fame accrued by Alonso, Pedro Berruguete is sometimes referred to as Berruguete el Viejo (“Berruguete the Older”) to differentiate in the middle of the two.

It is speculated that Pedro travelled to Italy in 1480 and worked in the court of Federico III da Montefeltro in Urbino, where he could have seen some works by Melozzo da Forlì. The Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro later than His Son Guidobaldo (c. 1475), now at the Galleria nazionale delle Marche, has been approved to Berruguete by some art historians but the Flemish painter Justus van Gent, who was dynamic in Urbino at the time, is another mighty candidate for its authorship.

Berruguete returned to Spain in 1482 and painted in several cities, including Toledo and Ávila. His correct date of death is ordinary and often approximated vis-а-vis the years 1503–1504. He may have died in Madrid, though no verifiable documentation has been found to substantiate this claim.

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