Credits: this content was originally published on the Joconde website. It was created in June 2018 by Sophie Jugie from the Dijon Museum of Fine Arts and Jeannette Ivain from the Service des Musées de France. The museum’s notices are online on POP, an open heritage platform.
A tomb in honor of Philip the Bold
Son of the King of France Jean II le Bon (1319-1364), Philippe le Hardi (1342-1404), Duke of Burgundy, was a powerful prince. Enlightened art lover and patron, he was served by the best artists of his time.
In 1381, Jean de Marville (1350-1389), imagier of the duke, is in charge of the execution of the tomb of Philippe le Hardi. Work began in 1384. On the Duke’s death, his son, Jean sans Peur (1371-1419), commissioned Claus Sluter (1350-1406) to finish the tomb. On the death of Sluter, Claus de Werve, his nephew and collaborator will complete the architectural elements and the weeping. He will also sculpt the recumbent figure, the lion and the two angels. The tomb, after having been decorated with polychromy and gilding by the painter Jean Malouel, was installed in 1410 in the Charterhouse of Champmol.
An unprecedented and expressive monumentality
The iconography of the recumbent figure and the procession of mourners resumes a tradition in use since the middle of the 13th century. The innovation concerns the monumentality of the tomb, which places the representation of the prince almost beyond the reach of the gaze, as well as the space given to the mourners who seem to be sliding through the arcades of a cloister. All express their pain by their expression, a gesture towards a neighbor or by the eloquence of their drapery.
A second tomb “as good or better” for Jean sans Peur
Later, Jean sans Peur expressed his desire to build for him “a burial similar to that of his late father”. It was his son, Philip the Good, who made a deal in 1443 with Jean de La Huerta for the second tomb, which was to be “as good or better” and of the same dimensions as that of Philip the Bold. A “pourtraict” of the recumbent figures by Claus de Werve was transmitted to La Huerta, who left Dijon in 1456, before the end of the work. Philippe le Bon entrusted the continuation of the construction site to Antoine le Moiturier in 1461. In 1470, the tomb with its architectural decoration and the mourners was set up in the choir of the church of Champmol, behind that of Philippe le Hardi, where they remained until the Revolution.
An eventful conservation over the centuries
These monuments have known a turbulent history and have not entirely reached us in their original state. Preserved when the Charterhouse was abolished, they were reassembled at Saint-Bénigne Cathedral in 1792, then dismantled and partially destroyed in 1793. They were restored between 1819 and 1826 (with restitution by the sculptor Joseph Moreau (1797-1855), in particular the missing mourners and the recumbent figures), and highlighted in the Salle des Gardes, at the Dijon Museum of Fine Arts. Finally, from 2003 to 2005, the tombs were restored after an in-depth study.
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