Tomb Effigy of Alonso de Mera (died May 22. 1553)

Kneeling Knight

Spanish
1592-1594
Juan de Montejo (Spanish, died 1601), Unidentified artist, Spanish (Spanish)


Object Place: Spain

Dimensions

Overall: 152.4 x 63.5 x 77.5 cm, 491.7 kg (60 x 25 x 30 1/2 in., 1084 lb.) Mounted (rolling steel base/2 removal slots ontop for inserting straps): 133.4 x 99.1 x 64.8 cm, 90.72 kg (52 1/2 x 39 x 25 1/2 in., 200 lb.)

Accession Number

44.813

Medium or Technique

Stone; alabaster

On View

Gothic Gallery (Gallery 218)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Sculpture

Alabaster. Full-round figure of bearded nobleman kneeling on tasseled cushion on rectangular stepped plinth, hands in prayer. Full armor, ruff at neck and cuffs, scabbard (sword broken) at left, sheathed dagger at back. Said to be from Zamorra, Spain. Now identified as Alonso de Mera, from the Monastery of S. Pablo and S. Ildefonso, Zamora, Spain


Alonso de Mera, dressed in armor, kneels in prayer. This statue comes from his home town of Zamora, Spain, where it once decorated his tomb in the now-destroyed monastery church of S. Pablo and S. Ildefonso. De Mera (d. 1533) founded the monastery upon his return from Peru, where he made his fortune. He wears a dagger at his back, and the sculpture once also included a full sword, likely made in metal. A helmet and gauntlets, now lost, were originally set humbly near his feet, carved together in alabaster with a little page boy asleep, a sign of grief for the dead knight. Research published in 2016 allowed us to identify the subject, the artist, and the original location of the sculpture—which had been incorrectly identified when the MFA acquired the work more than seventy years ago. Most recently, the statue was called simply a “Kneeling Knight.”

Provenance

Between 1592 and 1594, installed in the church of the monastery of S. Pablo and S. Ildefonso, Zamora, Spain [see note 1]; between 1895 and 1901, the sculpture was removed and sold [see note 2]. Probably early 20th century, Spanish Art Gallery, London; sold by the Spanish Art Gallery to William Randolph Hearst (b. 1863 - d. 1951), New York; November 28, 1940, sold by Hearst to the Brummer Gallery, New York (stock no. N4831) [see note 3]; 1944, sold by Brummer to the MFA for $26,000. (Accession Date: November 9, 1944)

NOTES:
[1] Part of the funerary monument to Alonso de Mera (d. 1553), founder of the monastery, which was installed in the main chapel of the church. On the identification and early history of the sculpture, see Sergio Pérez-Martín and Luis Vasallo-Toranzo, "A Renaissance Spanish knight in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston," Burlington Magazine 158 (November 2016), pp. 864-869.

[2] Pérez-Martín and Vasallo-Toranzo (as above, n. 1), p. 867. Following the suppression of monasteries after the Napoleonic wars, the government sold the property of S. Pedro and S. Ildefonso in the nineteenth century.

[3] When this sculpture was acquired from Brummer Gallery, it was said to have come from a monastery in Zamora, and to represent Don Monzo Averesque, who was believed to be the monastery's founder.

Credit Line

1939 Purchase Fund