The Tomb of Mary of Burgundy
To mark the 25th anniversary of CODART, each month we introduce you to one of the hundred exceptional masterpieces of early modern Dutch and Flemish art (1350-1750) selected by museum curators from around the world for the CODART Canon. This time, all eyes are on The Tomb of Mary Burgundy in Bruges by Renier van Thienen and Jan Borman II, among others.
Mary of Burgundy’s tomb is a unique and magnificent example of late Gothic funerary sculpture, whose beauty has been long celebrated. Daughter of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, Mary married Maximilian of Habsburg, the future Holy Roman Emperor in 1477.
Renier van Thienen (Tienen 1465-1489 ?), Jan Borman II (Leuven 1460-1516/1520 Brussels), Tomb of Mary of Burgundy, 1488-1502, brass, copper, bronze and enamel, 260 x 135 x 135 cm, Church of Our Lady, Bruges © Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain/Rainer Halama
When she died tragically in 1482, at the age of 25, her husband and their two children erected her tomb in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges. Archives preserved from 1488 indicate that the work, directed by Thibault Barradot, involved a large team of artists, such as Renier van Thienen, Pieter de Backere, Jan Borman, and Jehan Hervy.
© City of Bruges
Like most of the funerary monuments to her family in the Netherlands, Mary’s is made of precious metals, unlike monuments of her family in Champmol and Brou, which were carved in alabaster and marble. Her tomb also broke with the Burgundian tradition of the mourners, or pleurants, and instead shows an extraordinary heraldic family tree.
Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain/Rainer Halama
The Duchy of Burgundy had been captured by Louis XI, and the sovereignty of Maximilian over the Netherlands was disputed. As she was a woman, it was all the more crucial to recall that Mary was the sole heiress.
Magali Briat-Philippe, Chief Curator, Royal Monastery of Brou, Bourg-en-Bresse