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Art Seen: The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy

Mourner from the Tomb of John the Fearless, Number 52 (detail)
photo: VMFA

Number 52

Richmond: There is another great show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (until April 15th) that I was happy to come across. The Mourners from the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy is a beautifully tender and moving exhibit. There are thirty-seven alabaster mourners from the tomb in France that embody sadness, loss, and contemplation. Today these tombs are installed in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Dijon, France, and in their original state these mourners form a procession around the tombs of the first and second Burgundian dukes, Philip the Bold and John the Fearless. These pieces are originally part of a larger monument, but are beautiful works of art as individuals.

Number 55

The room at the VMFA is painted a dark lovely color that helps the white, clear alabaster pieces stand out. Since I went on a weekday with few visitors, the room really felt quiet, somber, and peaceful. While waking around the room, following the procession, it felt like, I too, was following the mourners around the room.

Number 72

The pieces, while not large (only about 16 inches or so tall),  are full of depth and sensitivity. Each figure somehow shows emotion with maybe a head that is turned downward, a face that express feeling and sadness, or with even a face completely covered with drapery that hints at mourning. Even though these mourners are all individually rendered, the drapery, along with movement of the mourner’s arms, legs, or hands move the pieces along. They seem to be walking slowly around behind another.

Number 78

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