BIGARNY, Felipe
(b. ca. 1475, Langres, d. 1542, Toledo)

Biography

Felipe Bigarny or Vigarny (his name is variously spelled) sculptor and architect, active in Spain. He is sometimes regarded as Castilian. He appears, however, to have been a native of Burgundy. During the first phase of his career he introduced into Castile a style related to the late French Gothic.

In July 1498 he arrived in Burgos, where he produced three panel reliefs in Briviesca stone (found in the quarries in Burgos) for the retrochoir of the cathedral, including the Road to Calvary. This project is often considered the first Renaissance work in Spain because of the obvious influence of Italian art of the Quattrocento in the grouping and rigidity of the figures. With Andrés de Nájera, a local sculptor, Vigarny was also engaged to make the choir-stalls for the cathedral and to undertake other minor architectural projects there. His reputation reached Toledo, where Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, of whom he later carved a beautiful alabaster medallion (c. 1518; Madrid, U. Complutense), secured him a position working under Enrique Egas and Pedro Gumiel on the main altarpiece of Toledo Cathedral. Under their direction, and in the company of the many other Spanish artists employed on the carving and gilding of the large larchwood altarpiece (1503–05), Vigarny’s work absorbed the Spanish tendency towards realism and complex Gothic draperies, as can also be seen on his altarpieces for the chapel of Salamanca University (1503–05) and for the Capilla Mayor of Palencia Cathedral (1505). The Italian influence was again in evidence in other works.