Return of Christ in the Tomb by Claus de Werve to the cathedral in Langres

Claus de Werve
(known between 1396 and 1439Christ in
the Tomb

Langres, Cathedral Saint-Mammès
Photo : DRAC Champagne-Ardennes

30/8/08 — Heritage — Langres, Cathedral — Before 1789, the cathedral in Langres held a sculpted group from the early 15th century representing the Entombment. The seven figures surrounding the body of Christ, described in the 18th century by a local historian, disappeared during the Revolution and this is the only surviving figure, moved to the chapel in the convent of the Annonciade also in Langres. Although the work was known it had been disfigured by a modern colouring and was not highly considered until Pierre Quarré, curator at that time at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, had the layers of paint removed. He became convinced, as did all the specialists, that this was in fact a work by the famous sculptor Claus de Werve. The reclining figure was listed as a Monument Historique in 1980.

In 1984, the last nuns left the convent which was sold in 1988 to the hospital in Langres while the chapel was closed for use and bought by the Diocesan Association. The building, outside the city centre, was open once a week for half a day thus allowing few visitors to see the Christ. For this reason, in 2006 the bishop of Langres, Mgr Philippe Gueneley, decided to donate it to the government on condition that it return to the cathedral where it could be viewed on a permanent basis.
For the occasion, the work was studied and restored. The conclusions were that it was in good condition and that it still preserved, besides the red paint signalling the blood of the wounds, traces of an ochre colour which had previously covered the whole body. A base was built at this time and the Christ (ill.) was placed in the chapel Saint-Luc-Huin, the first to the right in the ambulatory [1].

We would like to take this opportunity to point out the Internet website for the DRAC Champagne-Ardennes, which posts very complete studies on restorations and discoveries on a regular basis. This news item is simply a summary of the information on Claus de Werve’s work which can be found here.

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 31 août 2008


[1] The original location of the sculpted group, the chapel of the Sepulchre, was demolished in 1747.

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