Ducal Tombs of Philip the Bold (background), and John the Fearless with Marguerite of Bavaria, His Consort (foreground)
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
In 1383, Philip the Bold (Philippe II le Hardi), Duke of Burgundy (1363-1404), established the Chartreuse de Champmol (Carthusian monastery) to serve as burial place for himself and his descendants, thereby securing the monks' prayers for their souls. Originally, the tombs shown here were placed between the facing choir stalls of the monks, insuring that the bodies of the deceased were quite literally prayed over many times daily as the Psalms were chanted antiphonally. The monastery was sold during the French Revolution (1789-1799); the monuments are now housed in the Musée des Beaux Arts, in what was the guard room of the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy.By 1385 construction on Philip's tomb was in progress, under the direction of the South Netherlandish sculptor Jean de Marville, but would not be completed until 1410 and with the work of two other master sculptors. Claus Sluter (Netherlandish), who took over Marville's work in 1404, was dead by 1406. Sluter left detailed models that his nephew and successor, Claus de Werve, used to finish the work. The design called for an over life-size alabaster effigy of the duke clothed in robes of state with two angels at his head, holding up an insignia of rank. Netherlandish painter Jean Malouel carried out the polychromy and gilding of the effigy. The figure rests on a high plinth of black marble. Encircling this base is an architectonic arcade of carved alabaster that serves as a setting for figures of mourners innovatively portrayed as a cross-section of the funeral cortège who actually accompanied the Duke to his grave.John the Fearless (Jean sans Puer), Philip's successor, was so pleased with his father's tomb that in 1410 he commissioned Claus de Werve to sculpt a monument of similar design for himself and his consort. But when John was assassinated in 1419, turmoil ensued and the project was so delayed that Werve died penniless in 1439. Work recommenced on the double tomb in 1443 when Philip the Good (Philippe le Bon) engaged the Spanish sculptor Juan de la Huerta. Again, the project languished until finally, between 1466 and 1470, it was completed by the Avignon sculptor Antoine le Moiturier.Both tombs were heavily damaged during the French Revolution.Restorations largely obliterated marks of the masters' hands who created these works with so much effort.August 1981
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