144 H. J. J. SCHOLTENS The Charterhouse near Dijon and its artists 1379-1411 Three facts have already sufficiently demonstrated that Claus Sluter and Claus van de Werve, the son of Slitter's sister, were natives of Haarlem in the county of Holland. The well- known discussion which was held on the subject of their origin could be closed when, in 1932, J. Duverger could prove, with the aid of the ancient register of the Brussels Guild of Stone- masons and Sculptors as testimony, that 'Claes de Slutere van Herlam' had become a member of this guild in 1379. Some further information can now be added in the results of the first investigation of bearers of these names who lived in the county of Holland in the period 1350-1450. Evidently Sluter changed the spelling of his Christian name to 'Claus' after his stay in Brabant. This way of spelling the name was quite common in this duclzy. After Louis IX, Saint Louis, had founded the 'chartreuse' at Vauvert outside Paris in 1257, many of his descendants have followed this example elsewhere, in France as well as in the Netherlands, England and Italy. The time of the founda- tion of the 'chartreuse' by Duke Philip of Burgundy coincided more or less with that of similar plans that were carried out by his brother-in-law Gian Galeazzo near Pavia and by his son- in-law Amadeus VIII of Savoy at Pierre-Chatel (Aix). Against the background of the history of the morzastery in the period 1379-1411 tlze work of many artists, and especially that of the sculptors, are sumrried up. These last worked first under the guidance of Jehan de Merville, after 1389 under Sluter and from 1406 onward under Van de Werve. In 1389 Jehan de Vaulx had become prior of the 'chartreuse' who ruled the house during fifteen years. He probably came from the district around Doornik. Merville as well as Sluter re- cruited their own assistants mostly fronz Holland, Brabant, Flanders, Namurs, Hainault, and Artesia. In 1395 Sluter and his assistants started to work on the Calvaire for the court surrounded by the large cloister-s. The idea that this court was in those days destined to be a grave- yard arises from a mistake. Because the original Calvaire has disappeared the pedestal began to be called the Moses-well or the Well of the Prophets. This however is an incorrect and misleading appelation because the Calvary-group was the leading motive and the quintessence of the whole composition. Evidently Sluter had not sufficiently taken into account the practical drawbacks which the open-air position woirld entail upon this vulnerable monument with its rich gilding and the Maelwael polychromy. During only two years could it adorn the large area with its beauty. Then it was necessary to pro- tect the whole Calvaire against the elements. It was enclosed by an impeding abri which has permanently hidden Sluter's creation from view and brought disharmony. So the intended effect and the dominating function of the Fons Vitae have never appeared to their full advantage. It is surprising that in the literature hardly any attention has been paid to this tragic failure. The forty mourners on the tomb of Duke Philippe le Hardi are a reminiscence of, and perhaps a small selection from, tlre small escort which had taken part in the sober funeral cere- monies in the `chartreuse'. Among them are a number of poor people who, in accordance with the last will and testament of the deceased, were dressed in deep mourning. They do not take part in the funeral procession as one group but are scat- tered in order that the train should acquire a varied and lively character. In front are the officiating clergy with the bishop, eight figures in total. The autlzor takes the figure wearing the mitre to be the bishop of Langres, to whose diocese Dijon belonged. At the time of the funeral this was the see of Louis Cardinal de Bar, who was a nephew of the deceased duke. Behind this group come the prior and the procurator as a deputation from the Carthusian convent. These are probably followed by the Duke's three sons who, like the poor mourners, are completely hidden by their cloth mourning garb. According to the author the remaining twenty-seven figures represent eighteen notable gentlemen and nine poor 'deuillants'. The 'pleurants', whose faces are visible, seem portraits 'd'eJ71pi%s le vif'. The author shares David's view that Andrieu's effort to discover the identity of the individual 'pleurants' has yielded little of a reliable nature.
Oud Holland - Quarterly for Dutch Art History – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1966
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