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Medieval Works from Court of Burgundy to Leave France for First and Only Tour
Jean de La Huerta and Antoine le Moiturier, "Mourner from the Tomb of Jean Sans Peur (John the Fearless). second Duke of Burgundy, 1443-57. No. 45, Alabaster. © Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. Photo François JAY.
DALLAS, TX.- A group of nearly 40 of the greatest masterpieces of medieval sculpture, which have never before been seen in their entirety outside of France, will be presented in seven cities in the United States for the first and only time starting in 2010. Carved by Jean de La Huerta and Antoine Le Moiturier between 1443 and 1470, the unique devotional figures, known as “mourners,” were commissioned for the elaborate tomb of the second Duke of Burgundy. Crafted with astonishing detail, the alabaster sculptures exemplify some of the most important artistic innovations of the late Middle Ages. The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy represents the first time that these figures will be seen together outside of France and provides an unprecedented opportunity to appreciate each sculpture as an individual work of art.

Co-organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France, under the auspices of the French Regional & American Museum Exchange (FRAME), The Mourners will premiere on March 2, 2010, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before traveling to six additional museums throughout the United States. The exhibition will be on view at the Dallas Museum of Art from October 3, 2010 through January 2, 2011.

“This singular exhibition exemplifies the DMA’s ongoing programming, which connects Dallas residents and visitors with extraordinary art and cultural treasures from around the globe,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “These are incredibly beautiful works that are as powerful and meaningful today as they were the day they were created.”

“The loan and tour of the ‘mourners’ is a shining moment in the history of FRAME, a testament to shared friendship and shared knowledge,” added Richard R. Brettell, Director of FRAME in the United States.

The sculptures—each approximately 16 inches high—depict sorrowful figures expressing their grief or devotion to John the Fearless (1371–1419), the second Duke of Burgundy, who was both a powerful political figure and patron of the arts. The tomb, which is not traveling, comprises life-sized effigies of the duke and his wife, Margaret of Bavaria, resting upon a slab of black marble, with a procession of mourners weaving through an ornate Gothic arcade beneath. Each individual figure has a different expression—some wring their hands or dry their tears, hide their faces in the folds of their robes, or appear lost in reverent contemplation. The motif echoes that of ancient sarcophagi, but these innovative tombs were the first to represent mourners as thoroughly dimensional, rather than in semi-relief. The presentation of the mourners passing through the arcades of a cloister was also a great innovation for the tombs of the era.

“The renovation of our museum has created the opportunity for these exceptional works to travel together to the United States,” said Sophie Jugie, the Director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon. “This FRAME project allows the sculptures to be viewed and appreciated as discrete works of art.”

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the Valois dukes of Burgundy were among the most powerful rulers in the Western world, presiding over vast territories in present-day France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands from their capital in Dijon. The significant artistic patronage of the dukes drew artists, musicians and writers to Dijon, which became a major center of creativity and artistic patronage.

This prolific creativity and innovation extended to the ducal court’s sculpture workshop, which produced some of the most significant art of the period. The tombs of the first two Burgundian dukes, John the Fearless and his father Philip the Bold, are among the best examples. Both tombs were originally commissioned for the family’s monastic complex outside of Dijon, the Charterhouse de Champmol, and were moved following the French Revolution to the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France, where they have remained since the early 19th century. The forthcoming exhibition tour will enable the mourners to remain on view during the museum’s renovation.

The exhibition tour will include:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (March 2, 2010–May 23, 2010)
Saint Louis Art Museum (June 20, 2010–September 6, 2010)
Dallas Museum of Art (October 3, 2010–January 2, 2011)
Minneapolis Institute of Arts (January 23, 2011–April 17, 2011)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (May 8, 2011–July 31, 2011)
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (August 21, 2011–January 1, 2012)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (January 20, 2012–April 15, 2012)

Dallas Museum of Art | Musée des Beaux-Arts | The Mourners | Eugene McDermott | Greatest Masterpieces of Medieval Sculpture |




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