The rise to popularity of alabaster for memorialisation in England
Of the 339 known and recorded alabaster effigies in England and Wales belonging to the period to 1500, only thirty-four effigies (from twenty-eight monuments) probably date from before c. 1370.1 We have undoubtedly lost many more examples which were set up in monastic and friary churches and were subsequently destroyed during the serial monastic Dissolutions. Nonetheless, much can be learnt about the early patronage of this material for monuments from an examination of those individuals memorialised by surviving effigies, together with a handful of other figures recorded in wills or antiquarian sources. Royalty and churchmen were the first to see the attractions of this material. Most of the magnates and knights who emulated them were veterans of the Crécy/Calais campaign.
The tabulae: Ephemeral epigraphy in the surroundings of medieval tombs
Sonsoles García González
One of the most important aspects of the study of church monuments is epigraphy, including much lost as well as surviving material. Epitaphs provide information about the identity of the deceased, their family, the date of death and, occasionally, they include personalised aspects of devotion. A considerable body of medieval epigraphy has been lost, due to renovations within buildings, the expropriation of the church, wars, and liturgical reforms. Furthermore, there is one type of epigraphy which has been almost forgotten: the tabulae or tablets, that is, epitaphs written on vellum or paper and fixed to boards and wooden structures which were placed in close proximity to certain tombs. This kind of epigraphy, scarcely preserved, is known nowadays chiefly through the texts of early historians and chroniclers of monasteries and cathedrals. While recent work on English sites has begun to consider such material, elsewhere, as is the case in Spain, these inscriptions remain largely unnoticed. This article, therefore, attempts to understand and contextualise the existence of the Iberian tabulae as they relate to similar examples in England and France.
First-rate and second-hand: Tombstones produced by Vincent Lucas in sixteenth-century Friesland (Netherlands)
Winner of the CMS Essay Prize Competition 2016
Tombstones are rarely signed by their maker yet this practice was apparently not so uncommon in the northern Dutch province of Friesland. One sculptor who often signed his work was Vincent Lucas, who was active in the mid sixteenth century. Curiously, one of his tombstones in Franeker which commemorates Gerardus Agricola is signed 1555, whereas Agricola died in 1598, an unusual discrepancy of forty-three years that documents in the local archives can help explain. This article will discuss the commemorative output of Lucas and his teacher Benedictus Gerbrandts, along with workshop practices, from producing monuments ‘on spec’ and custom-made memorials commissioned by patrons in their lifetime, to re-use of older tombstones.
Two contrasting seventeenth-century church monuments in the Province of Ulster
James Stevens Curl
This paper describes two little-known early-seventeenth-century funerary monuments to Englishmen and their families in two Ulster churches: one in Co. Donegal, and one in Co. Antrim. The Donegal exemplar is somewhat unsophisticated, but the Antrim one is very grand, standing comparison with some of the better contemporary work in England. Drawing on a wide range of sources, the author considers both in the contexts of the ‘Plantation’ or colonisation of Ulster under King James VI and I, of Ireland generally, and within the wider aspect of other funerary monuments in Northern Europe.
Painted remembrance: The drawings and paintings of the Dutch seventeenth-century Ter Borch family
Sophie Oosterwijk With Alice Zamboni
This article discusses quintessentially personal expressions of commemoration, viz. in painting and poetry, thereby offering a more nuanced notion of remembrance than is implied by the conventional narrow scholarly focus on funerary monuments. The collection of poems and drawings by the Dutch seventeenth-century Ter Borch family was discovered in 1882 and subsequently acquired for the largest part by the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam. It offers us an insight into the varied interests among this artistic family in Zwolle, in particular the sometimes morbid drawings by the unmarried daughter Gesina ter Borch (1631–90). These may be explained in part by the many losses in her family, especially the early death in battle of her youngest brother Moses near Felixstowe in 1667: he was buried in Harwich instead of his home town of Zwolle (Overijssel). To commemorate him, Gesina collaborated with her famous half-brother Gerard ter Borch (1617–81) on an allegorical posthumous oil portrait of Moses, which was acquired by the Rijksmuseum in 1995.
‘Defunctus adhoc loquitur’. The monument to Archbishop Isaak Isakowicz in the Armenian Cathedral in Lvov
Runner-up in the CMS Essay Prize Competition 2016
The mural monument to Archbishop Isakowicz (1824–1901) is one of three surviving figurative memorials in the medieval cathedral of Lvov and was erected in 1905, during a period when both the Armenian cathedral and the Armenian community of the city were undergoing major transformations aimed at re-shaping the church’s building and re-defining the Armenian identity (the former being a means to achieve the latter). It is argued that the monument could be understood both as a means of this transformation and as a telling testimony to the self-awareness of the Armenians of Lvov with respect to their history and culture at the beginning of the twentieth century. Furthermore, the unparalleled quality of the work made it an attractive and persuasive tool in a campaign for the re-Armenisation of the cathedral and the first ‘truly Armenian’ element in the church’s interior. The almost palpable presence of the first defender of the Armenian rite, shown in a niche with matching Armenian surround, legitimated the efforts aimed at stripping the cathedral walls bare of their Baroque décor, revealing their original (i.e. Armenian) decoration carved in stone. Apart from the ideological message it carries, the monument is an exquisite work of art, probably the best portrait sculpture by the Lvov artist Juliusz Bełtowski, and one that stands comparison with the best examples of Berninesque portrait busts.
Humphrey Llwyd of Denbigh: A musical monument
Anthony J. Parkinson
The hitherto unidentified musical ‘epytaph’ of Humphrey Llwyd of Denbigh (d. 1568) has been shown to be a psalm-tune from the Geneva Psalter, and a theory is advanced as to its contemporary significance.