Monday, February 13, 2012

"The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy" Opens at the VMFA

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has just opened another fascinating exhibit, "The Mourners:  Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy."  The exhibit features a procession of 37 alabaster mourners from the Tomb of John the Fearless, the second duke of Burgundy.

The mourners' procession first passed through the arcade at the base of John's monument in a monastery outside Dijon, a northern French town as famous for its mustard as its art!  Later, when the monastery was sold in the aftermath of the French Revolution, the figures continued their procession in Dijon's Musee des Beaux Arts.  Now the alabaster figures, which range in height from 17 inches for a bishop to 10 inches for a choir boy are on view in the Melon Focus Gallery at the VMFA.

John the Fearless, who died in 1419, was among the wealthiest and most powerful aristocrats of Northern Europe.  Some of the figures hide their grief under hoods while others cry more openly.  They range from exalted bishops to the lowliest of choirboys. All are extraordinary works of art from the Middle Ages distinguished by their life likeness and their sense of mystery.

The 3000 square foot exhibition space is divided into two sections.  The first room features a dramatic installation of rows of the mourners against walls.  The intent is to re-create the arrangement of the figures as they were at the base of the tomb. The second room will feature a film and a computer reconstruction of the tomb. The sculptures have travelled to Richmond because the Dijon museum is under renovation.  When the exhibit closes here on April 15, the figures will travel to Paris en route to their permanent re-installation in Dijon.  Admission to the exhibit is free.  For further information, call 804-340-1405 or visit  Maury Place at Monument is within a short walk of the VMFA.

Mac Pence and Jeff Wells
your Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers at Maury Place at Monument