Tomb of Philippe Pot
The Tomb of Philippe Pot is a 15th-century funerary monument commissioned by Philippe Pot (d. 1493), royal steward of Burgundy under Louis XI, between c. 1477–80 for his burial at the chapel of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Cîteaux Abbey, south of Dijon.
It consists of eight life-sized pleurants, represented as solemn and hooded pallbearers carrying Philippe's recumbent effigy towards its final resting place. Made of polychromed limestone, paint, gold and lead, it measures 181 (width) x 260 (height) x 167 (depth) cm. No definitive attributions have been made as to the artists and craftsmen who created the work, but Antoine Le Moiturier is often suggested to have produced the mourners.
The tomb was plundered during the French revolution, and in the 19th century positioned in private gardens in hotels in Dijon. It has been in the collection of the Musée du Louvre since 1899, where it is on permanent display.
Philip the Bold (1363–1404) commissioned the first of the Burgundian tombs in the latter part of the 14th century, hiring Claus Sluter as sculptor, whose distinctive style in which many small pleurants are positioned surrounding the effigy, was copied for the next century. Philippe Pot (1428–1493), royal stewart and seneschal to the Dukes of Burgundy, was raised at the Burgundian court, where he was educated. His tomb follows the tradition of the earliest ducal tombs, with Sluter's influence evident in the presence of mourners – or pleurants. As art historian Donna Sadler writes, a century after Sluter's work, in Pot's tomb "the pleurants have taken steroids and become life-sized, bearing the effigy upon their shoulders".
Philippe Pot reposes on a limestone plate or slab, and is dressed in a Knightly helmet and armor with a gilded breastplate. His head rests on a cushion, his eyes are open and his hands are clasped in prayer. A sword lies to his side while a lion rests at his feet. The mourners, whose carved forms seem influenced by the Dutch sculptor Claus Sluter, are carved in black stone, and dressed full length black hooded habits. Each bows their head in grief, and each bears an individually designed gilded heraldic shield, which may refer to Philippe's lineage, making the monument of the "Kinship tomb" type. The tomb is in good condition, but has been restored in places; a 19th century engraving shows Philippe's hands broken apart.
Its style and scale became influential, because the sculptor transformed the size and placement ofpleurants, which had been relatively small figures standing in niches around the sarcophagus. Its influence is evidenced by the similar tombs of Louis de Savoisy (d. 1515) and Jacques de Mâlain (d. 1527).
The monument was commissioned to stand over Philippe's grave in the north arm of the chapel's transept. The artists and craftsmen involved in its production have not been identified, although the French sculptor Antoine Le Moiturier is often suggested as likely to have created the pleurants, based on the facial types and according to art historian Colum Hourihane the "unusually rigid drapery". Guillaume Chandelier has also been suggested as involved, but there is little concrete evidence.
The tomb was seized by the state during the French Revolution, and sold in 1791 to the Duleu Society and Dardelin of Dijon. It was acquired in 1808 by Charles Richard de Vesvrotte, lord of Ruffey-lès-Beaune, following a legal case against the state. De Vesvrotte placed the tomb in the garden of his hôtel particulier (mansion) in Dijon, the Hôtel Petit de Ruffey. He then temporarily moved it to a castle grounds in his possession, and then relocated to another of his mansion's gardens. It passed to the French National Collections in 1899.
- Sadler, xi
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- Hourihane, 357
- McGee Morganstern, 8
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- Hourihane, 40
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