Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES
 

 
 

 
 

CHAPTER FIVE
 

THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
 

Painting
Architecture and Sculpture - Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

 
 


Architecture and Sculpture

 


PILON.

Germain Pilon (c. 1535-1590), the greatest sculptor of the later sixteenth century, was a more powerful artist. In his early years he, too, learned a good deal from Primaticcio, but he soon developed his own idiom by merging the Mannerism of Fontainebleau with elements taken from ancient sculpture, Michelangelo, and the Gothic tradition. His main works are monumental tombs, of which the earliest and largest was for Henry II and Catherine de' Medici (fig. 738). Primaticcio built the architectural framework, an oblong, freestanding chapel on a platform decorated with bronze and marble reliefs. Four large bronze statues of Virtues, their style reminiscent of Fontainebleau's, mark the corners.

On the top of the tomb are bronze figures of the king and queen kneeling in prayer, while inside the chapel the couple reappear recumbent as marble gisants, or nude corpses (fig.
739).

This contrast of effigies had been a characteristic feature of Gothic tombs since the fourteenth century. The gisant expressed the transient nature of the flesh, usually showing the body in an advanced stage of decomposition, with vermin sometimes crawling through its open cavities. How could this gruesome image take on Renaissance form without losing its emotional significance? Pilon's solution is brilliant: by idealizing the gisants he reverses their former meaning. The recum-

bent queen in the pose of a classical Venus and the king in that of the dead Christ evoke neither horror nor pity but, rather, the pathos of a beauty that persists even in death. The shock effect of their predecessors has given way to a poignancy that is no less intense. Remembering our earlier distinction between the classical and medieval attitudes toward death, this quality may be defined. The Gothic gisant, which emphasizes physical decay, represents the future state of the body, in keeping with the whole "prospective" character of the medieval tomb. Pilon's gisants, however, are "retrospective," yet do not deny the reality of death. In this union of oppositesnever to be achieved again, even by Pilon himselflies the greatness of these figures.



738. GERMAIN PILON and FRANCESCO PRIMATICCIO .
Tomb of Henry II.
1563-70.

Abbey Church of St.-Denis, Paris




739. GERMAIN PILON. Gisants of the King and Queen,
detail of the Tomb of Henry II




739. GERMAIN PILON. Gisants of the King and Queen, detail of the Tomb of Henry II




739. GERMAIN PILON. Gisants of the King and Queen, detail of the Tomb of Henry II




739. GERMAIN PILON. Gisants of the King and Queen, detail of the Tomb of Henry II




GERMAIN PILON. The Praying figures, detail of the Tomb of Henry II




GERMAIN PILON. The Praying figure, detail of the Tomb of Henry II




GERMAIN PILON. Esquisse pour le gisant du roi Henri II





GERMAIN PILON. Monument for the Heart of Henri II
1560-66
Marble, height 150 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris




GERMAIN PILON. Monument for the Heart of Henri II
1560-66
Marble, height 150 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris

 

 


Germain Pilon

Germain Pilon, (born 1535, Paris, France—died Feb. 3, 1590, Paris), French sculptor whose work, principally monumental tombs, is a transitional link between the Gothic tradition and the sculpture of the Baroque period.

A sculptor’s son, Pilon was employed at age 20 on the decoration of the tomb of King Francis I at Saint-Denis. His earlier work clearly shows an Italian influence, but eventually he developed a more distinctively French expression by fusing elements from classical art, Gothic sculpture, and Michelangelo with the Fontainebleau adaptation of Mannerism, a style characterized by subjective conceptions, studied elegance, and virtuoso artifice.

Pilon’s best-known works are funerary sculptures for Henry II. It was a custom of the period for men of high estate to assign their remains to more than one burial site—often one for the body, one for the heart, and one for the entrails. Pilon’s monument for the heart of Henry II (c. 1561) consists of three marble Graces of great elegance supporting an urn. It was perhaps based on a design by Primaticcio. For the principal tomb of Henry II and Catherine de Médicis at Saint-Denis (1563–70), also designed by Primaticcio, Pilon created four bronze corner figures and, above, the kneeling figures of the king and queen in bronze. Most important, however, are the seminude, marble gisants, or figures of the royal pair recumbent in death. Considered by some to be his most sublime achievement, the gisants are a Renaissance idealization of a Gothic convention and possess a depth of emotion that Pilon perhaps never again attained.

Sculptor royal from 1568, Pilon had a successful career as a portraitist, his finest work in the genre being the kneeling figure of René de Birague (1583–85). Pilon also created an effigy, Valentine Balbiani, of Birague’s wife. It is also believed that his bronze relief Deposition was created for Birague’s private chapel. Appointed controller of the mint in 1572, he contributed to French medal casting a distinguished series of bronze medallions in 1575. Pilon was commissioned to decorate the Valois Chapel (1559, destroyed 1719) in Saint-Denis Abbey, and he worked on several marble statues, among them Risen Christ (begun 1572), that were probably intended for the chapel but were unfinished at the time of his death in 1590.

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 




GERMAIN PILON. Monument to Valentine Balbiani
1583
Marble, 83 x 191 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris


 


GERMAIN PILON. Monument to Valentine Balbiani (detail)
1583
Marble, 83 x 191 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris




GERMAIN PILON. Monument to Valentine Balbiani (detail)
1583
Marble, 83 x 191 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris

 


GERMAIN PILON. Monument to Valentine Balbiani (detail)
1583
Marble, 83 x 191 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris

 
 

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