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Work Mausoleum of the Heart of Louis de Cossé, Duc de Brissac (1625-1661)

Department of Sculptures: France, 17th and 18th centuries

Mausolée du coeur de Louis de Cossé, duc de Brissac (1625 - 1661)

© 1997 Musée du Louvre / Pierre Philibert

Sculptures
France, 17th and 18th centuries

Author(s):
Montalbetti Valérie

The charm of these two small funerary spirits, so touchingly beautiful and sad, is irresistible. One of them gazes sorrowfully at the heart of Louis de Cossé-Brissac. Part of a monument that once contained the heart of the deceased duke, they stand on either side of a tall, richly decorated column. In this youthful work, Étienne Le Hongre, a sculptor who was to lead a brilliant career at Versailles, drew his inspiration from a royal monument erected in the previous century.

A marble mausoleum

The mausoleum consists of a tall white marble column, carved with four ducal crowns and the duke's monogram, an interlaced L and C, surmounted by a Corinthian capital adorned with four eagles. The column was formerly topped by a gilded bronze urn that contained the heart of the deceased. Two funerary spirits, presenting shields emblazoned with the duke's coat of arms, flank the column: a tear forms in one statue's eye, while the other gazes sorrowfully at the heart clasped in his left hand. Although grief-stricken, they remain graceful; their bodies show a slight contrapposto and are clad in elegant drapery. This group originally stood on a black marble pedestal, inscribed with three epitaphs, that was surrounded on three sides by a marble enclosure, adorned with bas-reliefs. In 1843 the latter reliefs were arbitrarily placed on a cenotaph in honor of Louis XIV in the crypt of the basilica of Saint-Denis.

A youthful work

Commissioned in 1661 for the Orléans Chapel in the church of the Celestines, Paris, this monument was an early work by Étienne Le Hongre, a student of Jacques Sarazin, who had just returned from a six-year stay in Rome and who, from the 1670s onwards, would be an outstanding member of the team of sculptors working at Versailles. The sculptor almost certainly drew his inspiration from the Mausoleum of the Heart of Francis II, erected in the same chapel (now in Saint-Denis) the previous century: he used the same motif of spirits-weeping yet charming-standing on either side of a column.

Famous monuments of the heart

The church of the Celestines was also home to other celebrated monuments of the heart, now in the Louvre: those of Henry II by Germain Pilon, of High Constable Anne de Montmorency by Barthélemy Prieur (with three Allegories encircling a column), and of the Duc de Longueville by François Anguier (with four Virtues flanking a pyramid).

Bibliography

Beyer Victor and Bresc-Bautier Geneviève, La Sculpture française du XVIIe siècle au musée du Louvre, Bergame, Grafica Gutenberg, 1977, Paris, 1977, n. p.
Souchal François, French Sculptors of the 17th and the 18th Centuries.
The Reign of Louis XIV, vol. IV, Oxford, 1993, p. 151.

Technical description

  • Étienne LE HONGRE (Paris, 1628 - Paris, 1690)

    Mausolée du coeur de Louis de Cossé, duc de Brissac (1625 - 1661)

  • Marbre

    H. : 3,50 m. ; L. : 0,46 m. ; Pr. : 0,46 m.

  • Provenant du musée des Monuments français, 1821 et avant 1855

    M.R. 1659, N. 15189, N. 15190

  • Sculptures

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Pont-au-Change
    Room 19

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