The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy

Art of the Americas Building, Level 2
May 8, 2011–July 31, 2011
Image

The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy features thirty-seven sculptures from the tomb of John the Fearless (1371–1419), the second duke of Burgundy. His elaborate tomb, once housed at a monastery on the outskirts of Dijon, is now one of the centerpieces of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Valois dukes of Burgundy ruled over extensive territories in present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands from their capital in Dijon, which during their reign became a major center of artistic patronage. Their court’s sculpture workshop produced some of the most profound and original art of the period. The tombs of the first and second Burgundian Dukes, Philip the Bold and John the Fearless, are among the summits of their achievement. Each tomb includes in its lower register an elaborate arcade in the flamboyant gothic style, populated by a solemn processional of alabaster figures of monks and clerics that appear to circulate around the tomb as if it were a cloister. These sculptures, known as the mourners, are small-scale embodiments of late medieval devotion. While some of the figures are shown wringing their hands or drying their tears, others appear lost in solemn contemplation, while still others hide their faces in the deeply carved folds of their robes.

The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy was organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, under the auspices of FRAME (French Regional and American Museum Exchange). The exhibition is supported by a leadership gift from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Florence Gould Foundation, the Eugene McDermott Foundation, Connie Goodyear Baron, and Boucheron. Major corporate support is provided by Bank of the West—Member BNP Paribas Group. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.

           

Bishop, no. 45
Jean de la Herta & Antoine Le Moiturier
1443–1456/57
Cantor Holding an Open Book in Both Hands, no. 48
Jean de la Herta & Antoine Le Moiturier
1443–1456/57
Mourner with Head Uncovered, Wiping His Tears on His Cloak with His Right Hand, no. 55
Jean de la Herta & Antoine Le Moiturier
1443–1456/57
Mourner with Cowl Pulled Down, Holding a Rosary, no. 72
Jean de la Herta & Antoine Le Moiturier
1443–1456/57

The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy

Curator J. Patrice Marandel talks about the installation at LACMA and the history of the Dijon tomb figures.

Medieval Mourners

The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy just opened last weekend. The installation is beautiful, with spotlit alabaster figures set on a platform in a dramatic darkened gallery. The figures are not commonly seen in such a minimalist setting; they come from the lower register of the elaborate tomb of John the Fearless, one of the powerful 15th century dukes of Burgundy. The tomb is now a centerpiece of the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. The gallery that houses it is being renovated, so the figures have been on the road for over a year. Isolated as discrete works of art, the sculptures (each about sixteen inches high) stand out like miniature portraits of distinct personalities who retain their individuality despite the passage of more than five and a half centuries...

The Mourners Come to Life

This Sunday, award-winning choreographer Jamal and his performing ensemble, Jamal Dance Theater, will present a second performance of “Mourners Are Dancing Too,” a piece which was specially commissioned by LACMA in connection with the exhibition The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, which closes next weekend...

Video