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Work Monument of the Heart of Duke Anne de Montmorency (1493-1567), Constable of France

Department of Sculptures: France, Renaissance

Monument du coeur du connétable Anne de Montmorency

© 1994 Musée du Louvre / Pierre Philibert

France, Renaissance

Montalbetti Valérie

The Tomb of the Heart of Constable Anne de Montmorency was placed next to the Monument of the Heart of Henry II in the church of the Celestines, Paris: the king had, in fact, asked that the heart of his loyal servant be laid to rest at his side. The work's rich sumptuousness stems both from a combination of materials that creates a veritable symphony of colors and from its elaborate symbolism.

Rich polychromy

Anne de Montmorency began his service on Louis XII's expedition to Italy. Under Francis I, he pursued a brilliant military career but fell from favor in 1540. On Henry II's accession to the throne, he became one of the most influential figures in the kingdom. Resolutely hostile to the Protestants, he died fighting them at Saint-Denis in 1567.
The monument was designed by Jean Bullant, the Montmorency family's architect. The idea of a central column surrounded by three statues came from the Monument of the Heart of Francis II (basilica of Saint-Denis), designed by Primaticcio about 1560.
On a red marble base adorned with white marble bas-reliefs stands a single white marble cabled column, inlaid with (pink) marble from Campan, encircled by three bronze Virtues. The bronze urn containing the heart, melted down during the Revolution, was formerly placed on top of the column. This rich polychromy is characteristic of Prieur's funerary sculpture, as can be seen in the Monument to Christophe de Thou.

Symbolic imagery

The three statues represent the benefits of peace-seeking Justice. Peace burns the weapons of war, while Abundance (also called Felicity), holding a horn of plenty, offers ears of corn and bunches of grapes: this profane allegory is unusual in a tomb sculpture. Justice was the work of Martin Lefort. She holds her conventional attribute, the sword, but the scales are replaced by an olive branch. In France, torn apart by the wars of religion, the olive branch was a symbol of those who supported a peaceful political solution, as opposed to the advocates of punitive Justice (i.e., the extermination of the Protestant heretics). The star-studded cloak is another unusual attribute: the figure is thus also a personification of Astraea, whose return to Earth after the bloody wars symbolizes the coming of a new Golden Age, a time of peace and happiness. The reliefs on the base also illustrate Concord and Justice. This imagery embodies the ideal of peace championed by Henri de Montmorency, the constable's son, one of the first to rally to Henry IV's cause.

Antique revival

The cabled column is French architecture's first imitation of the ancient columns in Saint Peter's, Rome, which were believed to have come from the Temple of Jerusalem (built by Solomon). The "Solomonic" column became popular after appearing in Raphael's Healing of the Lame Man, a composition widely known through the engraving that was made of it. In antiquity, the column was frequently used in funerary art.
Moving away from the elongated Mannerist figures of the School of Fontainebleau, Prieur's Virtues attest to a revival of antique sculpture, seen in the idealized beauty of the faces, sobriety of the movements, and subdued use of drapery to highlight the silhouette. With thick wavy locks of hair, sensibly parted down the middle, Abundance's hairstyle again draws its inspiration from antiquity.
Bullant and Prieur also executed the tomb of the constable and his wife, in the church of Saint-Martin de Montmorency.


Crips-Day, "Le Monument funéraire du coeur d'Anne de Montmorency", GBA, 2è semestre, 1928, pp. 62-74.
Anthony Blunt, Art et architecture en France 1500-1700, Paris, 1983 (English edition 1953), p. 127.
Michèle Beaulieu, Description raisonnée des sculptures du musée du Louvre, vol. 2 Renaissance française, Paris, 1978, pp. 152-155.
Geneviève Bresc, "Justice et Paix. Le Tombeau de Christophe de Thou par Barthélémy Prieur", Revue du Louvre, Paris, February 1981, pp. 10-18.
Regina Seelig-Teuwen, "Barthélémy Prieur, contemporain de Germain Pilon", Germain Pilon et les sculpteurs français de la Renaissance, Actes colloque Louvre Oct. 1990, under the direction of. G. Bresc, Paris, 1993, pp. 365-385.

Technical description

  • Barthélemy PRIEUR (Berzieux (Marne), 1536 - Paris, 1611)

    Monument du coeur du connétable Anne de Montmorency

  • Colonne, marbre blanc et marbre CampanVertus, bronze

    H. : 1,28 m. ; L. : 0,70 m. ; Pr. : 0,39 m.

  • Provenant du musée des Monuments français, 1818 et 1821

    Statues: Abundance, or Felicity; Peace; and Justice, or Astraea

    M.R. 1658, M.R. 1681, M.R. 1682, M.R. 1683

  • Sculptures

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Room 214

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