Of unknown origin, this Calvary probably crowned a large altarpiece or else was in itself an altarpiece belonging to a minor chapel. Made up of three pieces —Christ on the Cross, Our Lady of Sorrows and St John—, it presents a stylistic diversity. The gaunt figure of Christ is indebted to Gothic art, as revealed by the thinness of the limbs, the head without the crown of thorns and the dramatically expressive gesture. The Blessed Virgin, wrapped in a mantle with extravagant pleats, leans her head to one side in a sorrowful expression and holds her hands together in a resigned gesture. St John looks more serene as he raises his saddened eyes, holding his right hand over his chest and gathering the folds of his cloak in his left hand in a commonplace gesture. Both figures are typical of later art and present features that have little in common with Gothic tradition.
The emotional pathos of the three figures is highly significant of the period, in the wake of Juan de Valmaseda (c. 1488–after 1548), the sculptor from Palencia who combined Gothicism with early Renaissance, anticipating the expressiveness of Berruguete. Valmaseda's influence, alongside that of Bigarny, can be traced in many sculptures and altarpieces produced in the area of Palencia. [A.E.P.S.]
Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederretako Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 38, n.º 24, ad vocem.