archyworldys

The tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy

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

Portrait of Philippe le Hardi (copy after a lost original), oil on wood, 17th century, Dijon, museum of fine arts © François Jay - museum of fine arts of Dijon
Portrait of Philippe le Hardi (copy after a lost original), oil on wood, 17th century, Dijon, museum of fine arts © François Jay – museum of fine arts of Dijon

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.

Read also  Arrested for mistreating his mother-in-law

An unprecedented and expressive monumentality

MARVILLE Jean de (author) , SLUTER Claus (author) , WERVE Claus de (author), Tomb of Philippe le Hardi, 4th quarter 14th century, 1st quarter 15th century, Dijon, museum of fine arts, © François Jay - museum of Dijon fine arts
MARVILLE Jean de (author) , SLUTER Claus (author) , WERVE Claus de (author), Tomb of Philippe le Hardi, 4th quarter 14th century, 1st quarter 15th century, Dijon, museum of fine arts, © François Jay – museum of Dijon fine arts

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.

SLUTER Claus (author) , WERVE Claus de (author), Tomb of Philippe le Hardi: Mourner n° 21, alabaster, 1st quarter 15th century, Dijon, museum of fine arts © Dijon, museum of fine arts
SLUTER Claus (author) , WERVE Claus de (author), Tomb of Philippe le Hardi: Mourner n° 21, alabaster, 1st quarter 15th century, Dijon, museum of fine arts © Dijon, museum of fine arts

A second tomb “as good or better” for Jean sans Peur

Anonymous, Jean sans Peur, oil on oak, 1404 or 1405, Paris, Louvre museum © RMN Jean-Gilles Berizzi
Anonymous, Jean sans Peur, oil on oak, 1404 or 1405, Paris, Louvre museum © RMN Jean-Gilles Berizzi

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.

LA HUERTA Jean de, LE MOITURIER Antoine, Tomb of John the Fearless and Margaret of Bavaria, alabaster, 2nd quarter 15th century, 3rd quarter 15th century, Dijon, museum of fine arts, © Jay, © Bourquin, museum of fine arts from Dijon
LA HUERTA Jean de, LE MOITURIER Antoine, Tomb of John the Fearless and Margaret of Bavaria, alabaster, 2nd quarter 15th century, 3rd quarter 15th century, Dijon, museum of fine arts, © Jay, © Bourquin, museum of fine arts from Dijon

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.

Read also  anti-Le Graët banners deployed in several French stadiums

Discover these monuments on Mona Lisa