Monday 21 January 2013

The Tomb of Louis de Brézé

 A recent visitor to my Diane de Poitiers Facebook page posted a lithograph of the Tomb of Louis de Brézé, located north of the chapel of the Virgin in the Cathedral at Rouen. As a result, I received numerous requests to add information about the tomb into this blog.

Diane commissioned the services of Jean Cousin and Jean Goujon in 1535, four years after her husband’s death. The monument is twenty-two feet high, and carved from alabaster and black marble, with touches of gold.

The monument is supported by four columns of black marble with alabaster capitals and base. The effigy is made of alabaster, and lays on a sarcophagus of black marble. It is a rather disturbing image of Louis de Brézé at the moment of his death. 

Diane appears in a statue of a mourning widow at his head, and a statue of the Blessed Virgin holding the Christ Child stands at his feet.
The Virgin and Christ Child

At the side of the monument are four caryatides crowned with flowers. The pair on the right represent Prudence and Glory, while the two on the left depict Victory and Faith. Between these caryatides, in the centre of the monument, is an equestrian statue of Louis de Brézé in white marble.

The inscription of the tomb reads as follows:
Diane as the grieving widow

O Louis de Brézé, ce tombeau a été construit
Par Diane de Poitiers, désolée de la mort de son époux.
Elle te fut inséparable et très fidèle épouse
Autant elle le fut dans le lit conjugal
autant elle le sera dans le tombeau

Translated it means:

O Louis de Brézé, this tomb was built
By Diane of Poitiers, saddened by the death of her husband.
She was inseparable from you and very faithful wife
As it was in the marital bed
so it will be in the tomb

Prudence and Glory
Faith and Victory