A cadaver tomb or transi (or memento mori tomb , Latin for "reminder of death") is a type of gisant (recumbent effigy tomb) featuring an effigy in the form of a decomposing corpse; it was particularly characteristic of the later Middle Ages.
Memento mori is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. It is related to the ars moriendi and similar Western literature. Memento mori has been an important part of ascetic disciplines as a means of perfecting the character by cultivating detachment and other virtues, and by turning the attention towards the immortality of the soul and the afterlife.
A tomb is a repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. Placing a corpse into a tomb can be called immurement, and is a method of final disposition, as an alternative to for example cremation or burial.
A tomb effigy, usually a recumbent effigy or in French gisant is a sculpted figure on a tomb monument depicting in effigy the deceased. Such compositions, developed in Western Europe in the Middle Ages, continuing into Renaissance, and early modern times, and still sometimes used. They typically represent the deceased in a state of "eternal repose", lying with hands folded in prayer and awaiting resurrection. A husband and wife may be depicted lying side by side. An important official or leader may be shown holding his attributes of office or dressed in the formal attire of his official status or social class.
A depiction of a rotting cadaver in art (as opposed to a skeleton) is called a transi. However, the term "cadaver tomb" can really be applied to other varieties of monuments, e.g. with skeletons or with the deceased completely wrapped in a shroud. In the "double-decker" tombs, in Erwin Panofsky's phrase,a carved stone bier displays on the top level the recumbent effigy or gisant of a person as they were before death or soon after their death, where they may be life-sized and sometimes represented kneeling in prayer, and as a rotting cadaver on the bottom level, often shrouded and sometimes complete with worms and other flesh-eating wildlife. The iconography is regionally distinct: the depiction of vermin on these cadavers is more commonly found on the European mainland, and especially in the German regions. The dissemination of cadaver imagery in the late-medieval Danse Macabre may also have influenced the iconography of cadaver monuments.
The skeleton is the body part that forms the supporting structure of an organism. It can also be seen as the bony frame work of the body which provides support, shape and protection to the soft tissues and delicate organs in animals. There are several different skeletal types: the exoskeleton, which is the stable outer shell of an organism, the endoskeleton, which forms the support structure inside the body, the hydroskeleton, a flexible skeleton supported by fluid pressure, and the cytoskeleton present in the cytoplasm of all cells, including bacteria, and archaea. The term comes from Greek σκελετός (skeletós), meaning 'dried up'.
Erwin Panofsky was a German-Jewish art historian, whose academic career was pursued mostly in the U.S. after the rise of the Nazi regime.
A bier is a stand on which a corpse, coffin, or casket containing a corpse, is placed to lie in state or to be carried to the grave.
In Christian funerary art, cadaver tombs were a departure from the usual practice of showing an effigy of the person as they were in life. An early example is the famous effigy on the multi-layered wall-tomb of Cardinal Jean de La Grange (died 1402) in Avignon.
Jean de La Grange was a French prelate and politician, active during the reigns of Charles V and Charles VI, and an important member of the papal curia at Avignon, at the time of the Western Schism. He was the brother of Étienne de La Grange, an advisor to the king and president of Parlement.
The term can also be used for a monument that shows only the cadaver without the live person. The sculpture is intended as a didactic example of how transient earthly glory is, since it depicts what all people finally become. Kathleen Cohen's study of five French ecclesiastics who commissioned transi tombs determined that common to all of them was a successful worldliness that seemed almost to demand a shocking display of transient mortality. A classic example is the "Transi de René de Chalons" by Ligier Richier, in the church of Saint Etienne in Bar-le-Duc, France.
Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving and modelling, in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or molded or cast.
The Cadaver Tomb of René of Chalon is a late Gothic period funerary monument, known as a transi, in the church of Saint-Étienne at Bar-le-Duc, in northeastern France. It consists of an altarpiece and a limestone statue of a putrefied and skinless corpse which stands upright and extends his left hand outwards. Completed sometime between 1544 and 1557, the majority of its construction is attributed to the French sculptor Ligier Richier. Other elements, including the coat of arms and funeral drapery, were added in the 16th and 18th centuries respectively.
Ligier Richier was a French sculptor active in Saint-Mihiel in north-eastern France.
These cadaver tombs, with their demanding sculptural program, were made only for high-ranking nobles, usually royalty or bishops or abbots, because one had to be rich to afford to have one made, and powerful enough to be allotted space for one in a church. Some tombs for royalty were double tombs, for both a king and queen. The French kings Louis XII, Francis I and Henry II were doubly portrayed, in effigy and as naked cadavers, in their double double-decker tombs in the Basilica of Saint-Denis outside Paris. Yet there are also other varieties, such as cadaver imagery on incised slabs and monumental brasses (including the so-called "shroud brasses"), of which many can still be found in England.
Louis XII was King of France from 1498 to 1515 and King of Naples from 1501 to 1504. The son of Charles, Duke of Orléans, and Maria of Cleves, he succeeded his cousin Charles VIII, who died without a closer heir in 1498. Louis was the eighth French king from the House of Valois, and the first from the Orléans branch of that dynasty.
Francis I was King of France from 1515 until his death in 1547. He was the son of Charles, Count of Angoulême, and Louise of Savoy. He succeeded his cousin and father-in-law Louis XII, who died without a son. Francis was the ninth king from the House of Valois, the second from the Valois-Orléans branch, and the first from the Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch.
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559. The second son of Francis I, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis III, Duke of Brittany, in 1536. Henry was the tenth king from the House of Valois, the third from the Valois-Orléans branch, and the second from the Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch.
The earliest known transi memorial is the very faint indent of a shrouded demi-effigy on the slab commemorating John the Smith (c.1370) at Brightwell Baldwin (Oxfordshire).In the 15th century the sculpted transi effigy can be identified in England. Cadaver monuments can be seen in many English cathedrals and some parish churches. The earliest surviving one, in Lincoln Cathedral, is to Bishop Richard Fleming who founded Lincoln College, Oxford and died in 1431. Canterbury Cathedral houses the well-known cadaver monument to Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury (1414–1443). Exeter Cathedral houses the 16th-century tomb of Preceptor Sylke, inscribed with: 'I am what you will be, and I was what you are. Pray for me I beseech you'. Winchester Cathedral also has two cadaver tombs.
Brightwell Baldwin is a village and civil parish in Oxfordshire, about 4 1⁄2 miles (7 km) northeast of Wallingford. It was historically in the Hundred of Ewelme and is now in the District of South Oxfordshire. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 208.
A cathedral is a church that contains the cathedra of a bishop, thus serving as the central church of a diocese, conference, or episcopate. Churches with the function of "cathedral" are usually specific to those Christian denominations with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and some Lutheran and Methodist churches. Church buildings embodying the functions of a cathedral first appeared in Italy, Gaul, Spain and North Africa in the 4th century, but cathedrals did not become universal within the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century, by which time they had developed architectural forms, institutional structures and legal identities distinct from parish churches, monastic churches and episcopal residences.
A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a parish priest, who might be assisted by one or more curates, and who operates from a parish church. Historically, a parish often covered the same geographical area as a manor. Its association with the parish church remains paramount.
The monument traditionally identified as that of John Wakeman remains in Tewkesbury Abbey. Wakeman was abbot of Tewkesbury from 1531 to 1539. When the abbey was dissolved, he retired, and later became 1st Bishop of Gloucester. He may have prepared the tomb for himself, with vermin crawling on his carved skeletal corpse, but never used it. He was buried instead at Forthampton in Gloucestershire.
A post-medieval example is the standing shrouded effigy of the poet John Donne (d. 1631) in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral in London.Similar examples from the Early Modern period signify faith in the Resurrection.
Cadaver monuments are found in many Italian churches. Andrea Bregno sculpted a few of them, including those of a Cardinal Alain de Coëtivy in Santa Prassede, Ludovico Cardinal d'Albert at Santa Maria in Aracoeli, and Bishop Juan Díaz de Coca at the Santa Maria sopra Minerva, a basilican church in Rome, Italy.
Three other monuments are those of Cardinal Matteo d'Acquasparta (Matthew of Acquasparta) at the Santa Maria in Aracoeli,the tomb of Bishop Gonsalvi (1298) and that of Cardinal Gonsalvo (1299) (both located at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore), all sculpted by Giovanni de Cosma, the youngest of the Cosmati family lineage.
Saint Peter's Basilica contains yet another monument, the tomb of Pope Innocent III.It was sculpted by Giovanni Pisano.
France has a long history of cadaver tombs, though not as many examples or varieties survive as in England. One of the earliest and anatomically convincing examples is the gaunt cadaver effigy of the medieval physician Guillaume de Harsigny (d. 1393) at Laon.Kathleen Cohen lists many other extant examples. There was a revival in the Renaissance, as testified by the two examples to Louis XII and his wife Anne of Brittany at Saint-Denis, and of Queen Catherine de Medici who likewise had her husband Henry II buried in a cadaver tomb.
There are a number of cadaver monuments and tomb slabs to be found in Germany and the Netherlands. An impressive example is the sixteenth-century Van Brederode double-decker monument at Vianen near Utrecht, which depicts Reynoud van Brederode (d. 1556) and his wife Philippote van der Marck (d. 1537) as shrouded figures on the upper level, with below them a single verminous cadaver.
A total of 11 cadaver tombs have been recorded in Ireland, many of which are no longer in situ. The earliest complete record of these monuments was compiled by Helen M. Roe in 1969.One of the better known examples of this tradition, is the monumental limestone slab known as 'The Modest Man', dedicated to Thomas Ronan (d. 1554), and his wife Johanna Tyrry (d. 1569), which currently resides in the Triskel Christchurch, Cork City. This is one of two examples that have been recorded in Cork, with the second residing in St. Multose Church in Kinsale.
A variant on this are Cadaver Stones, which lack the tomb part. Sometimes they are simply the relocated top part of the tomb, as is the case for the stone taken from the tomb of Sir Edmond Goldyng and his wife Elizabeth Fleming, built into the churchyard wall of St. Peter's Church of Ireland, Drogheda in the early part of the 16th century.
Arnolfo di Cambio was an Italian architect and sculptor.
Andrea dal Monte Sansovino or Andrea Contucci del Monte San Savino was an Italian sculptor active during the High Renaissance. His pupils include Jacopo Sansovino.
An effigy is a representation of a specific person in the form of sculpture or some other three-dimensional medium. The use of the term is normally restricted to certain contexts in a somewhat arbitrary way: recumbent effigies on tombs are so called, but standing statues of individuals, or busts, are usually not. Likenesses of religious figures in sculpture are not normally called effigies. Effigies are common elements of funerary art, especially as a recumbent effigy in stone or metal placed on a tomb, or a less permanent "funeral effigy", placed on the coffin in a grand funeral, wearing real clothing.
A monumental brass is a type of engraved sepulchral memorial which in the 13th century began to partially take the place of three-dimensional monuments and effigies carved in stone or wood. Made of hard latten or sheet brass, let into the pavement, and thus forming no obstruction in the space required for the services of the church, they speedily came into general use, and continued to be a favourite style of sepulchral memorial for three centuries.
A church monument is an architectural or sculptural memorial to a deceased person or persons, located within a Christian church. It can take various forms ranging from a simple commemorative plaque or mural tablet affixed to a wall, to a large and elaborate structure, on the ground or as a mural monument, which may include an effigy of the deceased person and other figures of familial, heraldic or symbolic nature. It is usually placed immediately above or close to the actual burial vault or grave, although very occasionally the tomb is constructed within it. Sometimes the monument is a cenotaph, commemorating a person buried at another location.
Andrea di Cristoforo Bregno (1418–1506) was an Italian sculptor and architect of the Early Renaissance who worked in Rome from the 1460s and died just as the High Renaissance was getting under way.
The Tomb of Antipope John XXIII is the marble-and-bronze tomb monument of Antipope John XXIII, created by Donatello and Michelozzo for the Florence Baptistry adjacent to the Duomo. It was commissioned by the executors of Cossa's will after his death on December 22, 1419 and completed during the 1420s, establishing it as one of the early landmarks of Renaissance Florence. According to Ferdinand Gregorovius, the tomb is "at once the sepulchre of the Great Schism in the church and the last papal tomb which is outside Rome itself".
Juste or Giusti is the name conventionally applied to a family of Italian sculptors.
The Royal Monastery of Brou is a religious complex located at Bourg-en-Bresse in the Ain département, central France. Made out of monastic buildings in addition to a church, they were built at the beginning of the 16th century by Margaret of Austria, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands. The complex was designed as a dynastic burial place in the tradition of the Burgundian Champmol and Cîteaux Abbey, and the French Saint-Denis. The church is known as the Église Saint-Nicolas-de-Tolentin de Brou in French.
The Della Rovere or Saint Jerome Chapel, otherwise the Chapel of the Nativity is the first side chapel in the south aisle of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. It was dedicated to the Virgin and Saint Jerome and decorated with the paintings of Pinturicchio and his pupils. It is one of the best preserved monuments of quattrocento art in Rome.
The Costa or St Catherine Chapel is located in the south aisle of the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. This is the fourth side chapel from the counterfaçade and was dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria. The lunettes were painted by the helpers of Pinturicchio and the marble altar-piece is attributed to Gian Cristoforo Romano.
The Montemirabile or Saint John the Baptist Chapel, otherwise the Baptistery is the first side chapel in the left aisle in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo.
Monuments in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo are tombs and funerary monuments ranging from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Since its rebuilding in the 1470s by Pope Sixtus IV the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo was one of the favourite burial places for members of the papal aristocracy, clergy and literati. Foreign artists were also buried in the church due to its location near their favourite quarter in Rione Campo Marzio. The high number of tombs and monuments makes the basilica a whole museum of sculpture as Jacob Burckhardt phrased it in his famous guide of Italian art in 1855. Besides the tombs in the side chapels and the choir there are many other funeral monuments in the aisles and the transept.
Conrad Meit or Conrat Meit was a German-born Late Gothic and Renaissance sculptor, who spent most of his career in the Low Countries.
A ledger stone or ledgerstone is an inscribed stone slab usually laid into the floor of a church to commemorate or mark the place of the burial of an important deceased person. The term "ledger stone" derives from the German word legen, meaning to lie. Ledger stones may also be found as slabs forming the tops of tomb chest monuments.
The monumental brass of John Rudying is a brass of 1481 to Archdeacon John Rudying in the Church of St Andrew in Biggleswade in Bedfordshire noted for the surviving Figure of Death. The monument was rediscovered under the chancel floor in 1955 during restoration and has been described as "very remarkable" by English Heritage.
The Tomb of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany is a large and complex silver-gilt and marble sculptured funerary monument. Its design and build are usually attributed to the Juste brothers although the work of several other hands can be distinguished. Design for and installed at the Saint-Denis Basilica, France, it was commissioned in 1515 in memory of Louis XII and his queen Anne of Brittany, probably by Louis' successor Francis I, and after years of design and intensive building was unveiled in 1531.