Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Transi de René de Chalon," Ligier Richier, 1547

A Morbid Anatomy reader sent me a wonderful image of this transi (or tomb figure depicting the decaying cadaver of the deceased) sculpted by Ligier Richier in 1547.

This fantastic figure, displayed in the Saint-Étienne church in the city Bar-le-Duc in France, once held the heart of its subject-- René de Chalon, Prince of Orange--in its raised hand, like a reliquary. The prince died at age 25 in battle following which, depending on which story you believe, either he or his widow requested that Chalon portray him in his tomb figure as "not a standard figure but a life-size skeleton with strips of dried skin flapping over a hollow carcass, whose right hand clutches at the empty rib cage while the left hand holds high his heart in a grand gesture" (Medrano-Cabral) set against a backdrop representing his earthly riches. Alas, the sculpture no longer contains Chalon's heart; it is rumored to have gone missing sometime around the French revolution.

Thanks, Pierre, for bringing this to my attention.


h said...

Interesting, and btw, you just helped me out with my halloween costume.... :) T'is the season to be a bit morbid!

jasonxyouth said...

so beautiful.

Unknown said...

strips of dried skin flapping over a hollow carcass

... but a fig leaf in place to protect modesty.

Beautiful regardless.

Jennie said...

I wrote a thesis in 2006 regarding tomb sculpture, torture, execution, execution, and Catholicism, which basically commented on how each recognized the body as temporal but the spirit eternal. This was one of my favorite images from my research, and I am glad others are enjoying it as well.

It really is a beautiful piece. I hope to see it in person someday soon.

John Hembree said...

I'm really interested in using this photo for an upcoming album of mine. Does anyone know if this photo is under copy right and if so how to contact the owner? Anyone with information can contact me at aphelion3@gmail.com .

Hamlet II said...

Morbid Anatomy, thank you for your wonderful post and wonderful blog. Do you think the owner of this picture would allow me to use it for a conference presentation? There are some photos of this same transi in Wikimedia Commons, but they aren't anywhere near as good.

Jennie, I am doing a PhD on cultural representations of death in early modern Europe (particularly Italy) and would love to read your thesis. What's it called? I'd like to look it up in our library catalogue, etc.