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Work Charles IV, the Fair (d. 1328) and his wife Jeanne d'Evreux (d. 1371), each holding a bag containing their entrails

Department of Sculptures: France, Middle Ages

Charles IV Le Bel (died 1328) and Jeanne d'Évreux (died 1371)

© Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN / Thierry Ollivier

France, Middle Ages

Valérie Montalbetti

These splendid marble recumbent effigies represent Charles IV the Fair, King of France (1322-28) and his wife Jeanne d'Evreux. They are the virtuoso work of Jean de Liège, a major sculptor during the reign of Charles V. They come from the tomb containing the royal couple's entrails in Maubuisson Abbey; their bodies were buried in Saint-Denis.

The burial of entrails

In his will of 1324, Charles IV the Fair bequeathed his body to be buried in the Abbey of Saint-Denis, his heart in the Dominican church of the Frères Prêcheurs de Paris, and his entrails in the Cistercian Abbey of Maubuisson (near Pontoise). It was customary in the 14th century for nobles to divide their remains among various religious sites, and therefore to erect a number of tombs. Such division of the body required pontifical permission.

The royal couple

Charles IV was the last of the direct-line Capetians. His first wife, Blanche de Bourgogne, was convicted of adultery and the marriage was annulled. His second wife, Marie de Luxembourg, died in 1324, the year after the wedding. In 1326, Charles married Jeanne d'Evreux, who gave him three daughters (one after his death). He died in 1328 without a male heir, and the crown went to Philip VI, a Capetian-Valois.
Jeanne d'Evreux outlived her husband by almost half a century. She made the same provisions as those in her husband's will and, around 1370, asked Jean de Liège to make the monument for their entrails: two white marble statues lying on a black marble slab, surmounted by two canopies. The queen's patronage of the arts was among the most prestigious of the 14th century. There are traces of this in the Louvre: fragments of a white marble retable she commissioned for the high altar of Maubuisson Abbey, and a gilded silver statuette of the Virgin (M.R. 342, M.R. 419) that she gave to the Abbey of Saint-Denis.

Recumbent effigies and Jean de Liège

These smaller than life-size effigies were once embellished with gold, and the sovereigns held a scepter in their right hand. They are portrayed holding the leather bag containing their entrails on their chest. The king is wearing 13th-century costume: a long tunic with close-fitting sleeves, a belt, a cloak fastened with a cord, and a crown with eight florets. The queen is dressed as a widow in what resembles monastic garb: a tunic and surcoat, a long cloak, a wimple, and a veil. As was the custom, dogs (symbolizing fidelity) lie at the queen's feet, and lions (symbols of strength and courage) at those of the king.
Jean de Liège, who ran an important workshop, was a major sculptor during the reign of Charles V; he made statues of the royal couple (Charles V and Jeanne de Bourbon) to adorn the great spiral staircase in the Louvre. These recumbent effigies reflect his virtuoso work with marble, manifest notably in the intertwining scrolls formed by the folds of drapery at the feet of the statues. These figures are very elegant, with the supple, harmonious rhythm of their drapery, the admirable treatment of their hands, and the beauty of their faces; their subtly modeled features and gentle smiles illuminate their otherwise standard appearance. The straight nose and distinctive hollow at the inner corner of the eye are characteristic of Jean de Liège and his workshop.

Technical description

  • Jean de LIÈGE (active from 1381 to 1403)

    Charles IV Le Bel (died 1328) and Jeanne d'Évreux (died 1371)

  • Marble

    H. 1.35 m; W. 0.36 m; D. 0.16 m

  • Gift of the Société des Amis du Louvre, 1907 , 1907

    R.F. 1436, R.F. 1437

  • Sculptures

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Jean de Liège
    Room 209

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