Workshop of Gil de Siloé, Saint Jude, Saint Bartholomew, and Saint John the Evangelist, 1500–5

Workshop of Gil de Siloé

(c. 1495–1563)

Saint Jude, Saint Bartholomew, and Saint John the Evangelist

c. 1500–5


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 18.316, 18.318, 18.317

Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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Object Label

Gil de Siloé was one of the many northern European artists to build a thriving career in Spain in the late fifteenth century. He established a sizable workshop and positioned himself as the leading sculptor of late medieval Castile. Among his patrons were Queen Isabella of Castile and other members of the royal court. Gil de Siloé’s style combines the angular expressiveness of Northern Gothic traditions with the florid, highly decorative forms then favored by Spanish patrons.

These three alabaster apostles were produced for one of the sculptor’s final commissions, the tomb of a young courtier, Juan de Padilla, who served as page to Queen Isabella before his death in 1491 at the battle for Granada. Initiated by Gil de Siloé and completed by his workshop after his own death in 1501, the tomb was moved from its monastic setting near Burgos to the provincial museum of that city in 1869. It was probably at this time that these three figures, which are on long-term loan from the MFA, Boston, were removed from the tomb’s uppermost tier. Two other apostles from the same tomb are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; yet another is preserved in a private collection.

Each of the apostles is identified by attributions traditionally related to his life. Saint Jude was, by the end of the fifteenth century, identified with a saw. Bartholomew is accompanied by a chained demon, a reference to his triumph over pagan gods in India; his right hand may once have held the knife with which he was flayed in martyrdom. John the Evangelist holds a cup with a serpent, a reference to the story that his faith enabled him to drink poison unharmed.