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The funerary monument of John, duke of Berry (1340–1416) was completed and erected in Bourges's Sainte-Chapelle upon the order of Charles VII, his heir general. The questions such tombs raise include some concerning construction and architecture, and – when they were demonstrably not bought ready-made or the extant written order is not restricted to general features usually only concerning the attire – the question of portraiture may also be deliberated in connection with 13–15th century gisants and funerary sculpted monuments. It is evident that Jean de Berry's tomb includes a portrait, but the finished tomb was not ordered in this form by Charles VII, nor was it envisaged by the carver of the effigy and the five alabaster mourners (pleurants) but it was probably designed by the duke himself in collaboration with André Beauneveu during his lifetime. Archival data support the attribution to Jean de Cambrai, but it was André Beauneveu, Duke Jean's contemporary and artistic adviser according to Froissart, the carver of portrait-like royal effigies, who drew up the exact design of the monument for Jean de Cambrai, who, in turn, took over Beauneveu's workshop and probably most of his commissions in the early 1400s. This is proven by the expensive and delicate material, white marble, of the lying effigy (the parts ordered to be completed by the king are of cheaper alabaster), the inscription of an unusual tone held by the gisant and the bear lying at the duke's feet. Although the bear was the grand seigneur's emblem, it was also more than that: it was an honoured pet of his mé-nage for decades and the companion of the duke towards the end of his life. A bear is unusual at this part of a tomb which usually features conventional animals (dog, lion). Here the relationship between human and the curled-up bear at his feet has an unusually intimate, personal overtone. The bear figure is also a portrait: it was not made with the impersonality of the correct but perfunctory adoption of the few available bear depictions (mostly in pattern books). The designer thus composed Jean de Berry's tomb with great care. A similarly spectacular heraldic device adorns the tomb of Margaret de Bohum (†1391), wife of Hugh de Courtney, Earl of Devon, in Exeter Cathedral, but the pair of swans is only a spectacular element and not an equivalent complement to the effigy portrait. There remained hardly any trace of the influence of a four-year stay in England in 1360–64 upon the young duke and art patron after the destruction of his buildings and treasury, but one thing is certain: he chose his heraldic devices in imitation of the English dukes. The origins of the swan-bear charges and the motto Le temps vendrá have not been explained satisfactorily yet.

Concerning the duke's heraldic animals, the first to refer to a strophe in Jean de Berry's nephew, King René d'Anjou's Livre du coeur d'amour épris is Guiffrey. After him everyone in the research literature explained the heraldic bear with this strophe which only mentions a cygne blanc navré, creating a beloved English dame, Miss Ursin (Urcin) from the name of the patron saint (Saint Ursin) of the new estate of John of France, the duchy of Berry and its capital city, Bourges.

In the duke of Berry's farewell, his last portraiture the bear is just as important an element as are the broad, coarse face of the grand seigneur, his band crown and ermine-lined mantle, as well as the motto that he presses to his shoulder with his never-aging, almost boneless hand.


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Senior editors

Editor(s)-in-Chief: Árpád MIKÓ

Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont, Művészettörténeti Intézet
P.O. address: Budapest, 1250, 31, Hungary


Chair of the Editorial Board: Anna JÁVOR

Magyar Nemzeti Galéria
Budapest, 1250, 31, Hungary


Editorial Board

  • Géza GALAVICS (Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont, Művészettörténeti Intézet)
  • Erika KISS (Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum)
  • András KOVÁCS (Babeș–Bolyai Tudományegyetem, Kolozsvár)
  • Ildikó NAGY (Budapest)
  • Enikő RÓKA (Budapesti Történeti Múzeum)

Művészettörténeti Értesítő
Hungarian Nationale Gallery
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Phone: (36 1) 375 8858 ---- Fax: (36 1) 375 8898

CrossRef Documents 18
WoS Cites 3
Wos H-index 2

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History Q4
Visual Arts and Performing Arts Q4
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Visual Arts and Performing Arts 389/502 (Q4)


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Language Hungarian
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Founder Magyar Régészeti és Művészettörténeti Társulat
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ISSN 0027-5247 (Print)
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