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The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy at Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The sculpture Mourner No. 52 from the Tomb of Jean Sans Peur (John the Fearless), second Duke of Burgundy.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy—a group of nearly 40 alabaster sculptures that have never before been presented together outside of France—on view from May 8 through July 31, 2011, as part of the first and only seven-city exhibition tour in the United States. 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), LACMA’s presentation is curated by J. Patrice Marandel, department head and Robert H. Ahmanson Chief Curator of European Art.

“It’s such an honor for LACMA to be a part of this groundbreaking tour,” says Marandel. “The Mourners are not only a great piece of art history, but their sorrowful expressions are known to touch audiences on a very emotional level.”

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.

Carved by Jean de la Huerta and Antoine le Moiturier between 1443 and 1457, the unique devotional figures, known as mourners, were commissioned for the elaborate tomb of the second Duke of Burgundy, John the Fearless (1371–1419). The sculptures—each approximately 16 inches high—depict sorrowful figures expressing their grief or devotion to the second Duke, who was both a powerful political figure and patron of the arts.

Crafted with astonishing detail, the alabaster sculptures exemplify some of the most important artistic innovations of the late Middle Ages. 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 Mourners provides an unprecedented opportunity to appreciate each sculpture as an individual work of art.



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