The tombs of the dukes of Burgundy
The tombs of the dukes of Burgundy represent a historical testimony of the sculpture of the late Middle Ages, highlighted in the hall of the palace of dukes, at the Museum of Fine Arts of Dijon. Discover through the online collections on Mona Lisa, the collective catalogue of museums in France.
Credits: this content was originally published on the Mona Lisa website. It was created in June 2018 by Sophie Jugie of the Dijon Museum of Fine Arts and Jeannette Ivain of the French Museum Service. The museum’s records are online on POP, an open heritage platform.
A tomb in honour of Philip the Bold
Son of the King of France John II the Good (1319-1364), Philippe le Hardi (1342-1404) , Duke of Burgundy, is a powerful prince. A lover of enlightened art and patron, he was served by the best artists of his time.
In 1381, Jean de Marville (1350-1389), the Duke’s image-maker, is charged with the execution of the tomb of Philip the Harding. The work begins in 1384. At the death of the Duke, his son, Fearless Jeans (1371-1419) charge 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 crying. He will also sculpt the lyingthe lion and the two angels. The tomb, after having been decorated with polychrome and gilding by the painter Jean Malouel, was installed in 1410 in the Charterhouse of Champmol.
A unique and expressive monumentality
The iconography of the lying and procession of crying 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 out of reach of the gaze, as well as the space given to the mourners who seem to slide into the arcades of a cloister. All express their pain through their expression, a gesture towards a neighbour or the eloquence of their drapes.
A second tomb "as good or better" for Jean without Fear
Later, John without fear manifested his will to build for him "a burial like that of his late father". He is his son, Philippe le Bon 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 recumbents by Claus de Werve was transmitted to La Huerta, which left Dijon in 1456, before the end of the works. Philippe le Bon entrusted the rest of the work to Antoine le Moiturier in 1461. In 1470, the tomb with his architectural decoration and crying was set up in the choir of the'church of Champmol, behind that of Philip the Harding, where they remained until the Revolution.
Conservation has changed over the centuries
These monuments have had an eventful history and have not entirely reached us in their original state. Preserved during the removal of the Chartreuse, they were saint benigne cathedral in 1792, then disassembled and partially destroyed in 1793. They were restored between 1819 and 1826 (with restitution by the sculptor Joseph Moreau (1797-1855), in particular crying missing and slugs), and highlighted in the guard room, at the art museum of Dijon. Finally, from 2003 to 2005, the tombs were restored after a thorough study.