Ligier Richier

Ligier Richier (c. 1500–1567) was a French sculptor active in Saint-Mihiel in north-eastern France.

Richier primarily worked in the churches of his native Saint-Mihiel and from 1530 he enjoyed the protection of Duke Antoine of Lorraine, for whom he did important work. Whilst Richier did sometimes work in wood, he preferred the pale, soft limestone with its fine grain, and few veins, extracted at Saint Mihiel and Sorcy and when working in this medium he experimented with refined polishing techniques, with which he was able to give the stone a marble-like appearance.[1] One of his finest works is the "Groupe de la Passion", consisting of 13 life-size figures made in the local stone of the Meuse region. It can be found in the Church of St. Étienne.[2] It is also known as the "Pâmoison de la Vierge" (Swoon of the Virgin, the Virgin fainting, supported by St John).[3] Other works attributed to him are in the Church of St. Pierre, Bar-le-Duc, and in the Louvre.

His work "Le Transi de René de Chalon" is in the church of Saint-Étienne i, Bar-le-Duc. Made in Sorcy stone and standing at 1m74cm, it depicts the corpse of Rene de Chalon, Prince of Orange (who died on the 15th of July 1544) in the form of a flayed corpse clutching its own heart.[4]

Sépulcre Ligier Richier 301008 02
Ligier Richier, Lamentation of Christ, Church of St. Étienne, Saint-Mihiel, France


Whilst little is known of Ligier Richier's personal life, it is recorded that in 1560, with the others living in Saint-Mihiel, he petitioned the Duke of Lorraine in order to practice in the reformed Protestant religion. He was apparently unsuccessful, for in 1564 he joined his daughter Bernadine in Geneva, Switzerland. She had married Pierre Godart, another Protestant who left Lorraine because of his religious beliefs. Richier remained in Geneva until his death in 1567.[5]

Perhaps more than any other French artist of his period, Ligier Richier produced some notable works linked to the "Passion"; a mixture of calvaries, pietàs and "mise au tombeau" (a depiction of the entombment). Some researchers believe he was born in Dragonville near Commercy, but there is evidence that he was born in Saint-Mihiel[6][7] The people of Saint-Mihiel and its immediate neighbourhood are known as "Sammiellois". It is not clear when Richier was born.

Richier executed calvaries for the parish church in Briey and for Saint-Étienne's church in Bar-le-Duc, the famous "mise au tombeau" for the Saint-Mihiel church of Saint-Étienne, a pietà for a church in Étain, and a depiction of the Virgin Mary fainting for Saint-Michel's church in Saint-Mihiel and was responsible for other works in neighbouring villages and towns in Lorraine. He also executed some funerary statues including the statue on the tomb of René de Chalon, the Prince of Orange, killed in 1544 at the Battle of Saint-Dizier, located in the church of Saint-Étienne in Bar-le-Duc, this a macabre exercise in "écorché".[8] He also produced a sculpture for the tomb of Philippa de Gueldres, the widow of Duke René II of Lorraine in Pont-à-Mousson where she died in 1547.[9][10]

From 1530 onwards Richier worked under the protection of Duke Antoine of Lorraine, for whom he did important work. Although he also worked in wood, he preferred the soft limestone available from quarries around Saint-Mihiel and Sorcy and by developing new polishing techniques he was able to give the limestone a marble-like appearance.[11]

See also

Sculptures by Ligier Richier


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-13. Retrieved 2013-04-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Brief Biography of Ligier Richier
  3. ^ List of Sights in Saint-Mihiel
  4. ^ [Ligier Richier: un Sculpteur Lorrain de la Renaissance, editions Place Stanislas 2008]
  5. ^ Ligier Richier (c.1500-1567)
  6. ^ Henri Lepage published a paper in 1854 and quoted a letter discovered in the Meurthe-et-Moselle archives written by Antoine, the Duke of Lorraine and dated 18 August 1530, which indicated Richier's birthplace as Saint-Mihiel.
  7. ^ "Ligier Richier L'Artiste et Son Oeuvre" by Paul Denis. Published in Paris in 1911
  8. ^ An "écorché" is a figure drawn, painted, or sculpted showing the muscles of the body without skin
  9. ^ Information from Marie-France Jacops conservateur en chef du patrimoine à la DRAC de Lorraine (service régional de l'Inventaire)
  10. ^ Background on Richier French Government Website. "Culture" ( Retrieved 11 March 2013
  11. ^ Richier's preference for limestone Archived 13 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Meuse Tourism website. retrieved 28 March 2013

External links

Media related to Ligier Richier at Wikimedia Commons

1500 in art

The year 1500 in art involved some significant events and new works.

1567 in art

The year 1567 in art involved some significant events and new works.


Bar-le-Duc (French pronunciation: ​[baʁ lə dyk]), formerly known as Bar, is a commune in the Meuse département, of which it is the capital. The department is in Grand Est in northeastern France.

The lower, more modern and busier part of the town extends along a narrow valley, shut in by wooded or vine-clad hills, and is traversed throughout its length by the Ornain, which is crossed by several bridges. It is limited towards the north-east by the Marne–Rhine Canal, on the south-west by a small arm of the Ornain, called the Canal des Usines, on the left bank of which the upper town (Ville Haute) is situated.The highly rarefied Bar-le-duc jelly, also known as Lorraine jelly, is a spreadable preparation of white currant or red currant fruit preserves, hailing from this town. First referenced in the historical record in 1344, it is also colloquially referred to as "Bar caviar".

Cadaver Tomb of René of Chalon

The Cadaver Tomb of René of Chalon (French: Transi de René de Chalon, also known as the Memorial to the Heart of René de Chalon or The Skeleton) 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.

The tomb dates from a period of societal anxiety over death, as plague, war and religious conflicts ravaged Europe. It was commissioned as the resting place of René of Chalon, Prince of Orange, son-in-law of Duke Antoine of Lorraine. René was killed aged 25 at the siege of St. Dizier on 15 July 1544, from a wound sustained the previous day. Richier presents him as an écorché, with his skin and muscles decayed, leaving him reduced to a skeleton. This apparently fulfilled his deathbed wish that his tomb depict his body as it would be three years after his death. His left arm is raised as if gesturing towards heaven. Supposedly, at one time his heart was held in a reliquary placed in the hand of the figure's raised arm. Unusually for contemporaneous objects of this type, his skeleton is standing, making it a "living corpse", an innovation that was to become highly influential. The tomb effigy is positioned above the carved marble and limestone altarpiece.

Designated a Monument historique on 18 June 1898, the tomb was moved for safekeeping to the Panthéon in Paris during the First World War, before being returned to Bar-le-Duc in 1920. Both the statue and altarpiece underwent extensive restoration between 1998 and 2003. Replicas of the statue are in the Musée Barrois in Bar-le-Duc and the Palais de Chaillot, Paris.

Cadaver tomb

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.

Christ carrying the Cross (Richier)

Christ carrying the Cross (French: Le Christ Portant Sa Croix) is a 15th century polychrome and oak sculpture attributed to the French sculptor Ligier Richier in the Église de Saint-Laurent in Pont à Mousson in Meurthe-et-Moselle. It is thought to have come from the chapel of "Mount Olive" erected by Philippe de Gueldres in the garden of the Clarisses monastery in Pont-à-Mousson.The sculpture was designated as a Monument historique in 1934.

Château de Ville-sur-Saulx

The Château de Ville-sur-Saulx (commonly referred to locally as the Château de Gilles de Trèves after its first owner) is a Renaissance château located in Ville-sur-Saulx in the French department of Meuse that was built in 1550. It was admitted into the Monument historique registration on March 6, 1995.

French Renaissance

The French Renaissance was the cultural and artistic movement in France between the 15th and early 17th centuries. The period is associated with the pan-European Renaissance, a word first used by the French historian Jules Michelet to define the artistic and cultural "rebirth" of Europe.

Notable developments during the French Renaissance include the spread of humanism, early exploration of the "New World" (as New France by Giovanni da Verrazzano and Jacques Cartier); the development of new techniques and artistic forms in the fields of printing, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, the sciences and literature; and the elaboration of new codes of sociability, etiquette and discourse.

The French Renaissance traditionally extends from (roughly) the French invasion of Italy in 1494 during the reign of Charles VIII until the death of Henry IV in 1610. This chronology notwithstanding, certain artistic, technological or literary developments associated with the Renaissance arrived in France earlier (for example, by way of the Burgundy court or the Papal court in Avignon); however, the Black Death of the 14th century and the Hundred Years' War kept France economically and politically weak until the late 15th century.

The reigns of Francis I of France (from 1515 to 1547) and his son Henry II (from 1547 to 1559) are generally considered the apex of the French Renaissance.

French sculpture

French sculpture has been an original and influential component of world art since the Middle Ages. The first known French sculptures date to the Upper Paleolithic age. French sculpture originally copied ancient Roman models, then found its own original form in the decoration of Gothic architecture. French sculptors produced important works of Baroque sculpture for the decoration of the Palace of Versailles. In the 19th century, the sculptors Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas created a more personal and non-realistic style, which led the way to modernism in the 2Oth century, and the sculpture of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Marcel Duchamp and Jean Arp.

List of French artists

The following is a chronological list of French artists working in visual or plastic media (plus, for some artists of the 20th century, performance art). For alphabetical lists, see the various subcategories of Category:French artists. See other articles for information on French literature, French music, French cinema and French culture.

List of sculptors

This is a list of sculptors – notable people who are known for their three-dimensional artistic creations (this can include artists who use sound and light).

This list is incomplete. You can help by expanding it.


In works of art, macabre (US: mə-KAHB or UK: ; French: [makabʁ]) is the quality of having a grim or ghastly atmosphere. The macabre works to emphasize the details and symbols of death. The term also refers to works particularly gruesome in nature.

Memento mori

Memento mori (Latin: "remember (that) you will die") 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 ("The Art of Dying") 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.In art, memento mori are artistic or symbolic reminders of mortality. In the European Christian art context, "the expression [...] developed with the growth of Christianity, which emphasized Heaven, Hell, and salvation of the soul in the afterlife".

Meuse (department)

Meuse (French pronunciation: ​[møz]) is a department in northeast France, named after the River Meuse. Meuse is part of the current region of Grand Est and is surrounded by the French departments of Ardennes, Marne, Haute-Marne, Vosges, Meurthe-et-Moselle, and has a short border with Belgium on the north. Parts of Meuse belong to Parc naturel régional de Lorraine. Front lines in trench warfare during World War I ran varying courses through the department and it hosted an important battle/offensive in 1916 in and around Verdun.

Palace of the Dukes of Lorraine

The Ducal Palace of Nancy (French: Palais ducal du Nancy) is a former princely residence in Nancy, France, which was home to the Dukes of Lorraine. It houses the Musée Lorrain, one of Nancy's principal museums, dedicated to the art, history and popular traditions of Lorraine until the early 20th century. It has been listed since 1840 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.

Philippa of Guelders

Philippa of Guelders (French: Philippe de Gueldres) (9 November 1467 – 28 February 1547), was a Duchess consort of Lorraine. She served as regent of Lorraine during the absence of her son.


Saint-Mihiel is a commune in the Meuse department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Saint Mihiel Abbey

Saint Mihiel Abbey is an ancient Benedictine abbey situated in the town of Saint-Mihiel, near Verdun in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France.

The benedictine abbey was built in 708 or 709 by a Count Wulfoalde and his wife Adalsinde, probably to house the relics that Wulfoalde had brought back from Italy.

It was dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel, a popular saint at the time, as can be testified by the establishment of the abbeys of Mont St Michel in Normandy and the Abbey of Honau in Alsace in the same period.

In 1734 the tombs of both Wulfoalde and Adalsinde were discovered in the abbey.

The abbey was placed under the authority of Fulrad of St Denis, chaplain to Charlemagne.

In 755 a mayor Wulfoald, probably a relative of the founder of the abbey, was accused of high treason and plotting against Pepin the Short, was condemned to death. When Fulrad intervened to save his life, Wulfoald expressed his gratitude by giving King Childéric II his possessions, including the Abbey.

The Abbey is best known for its abbot Smaragdus, who moved there around the year 814 with his monks from the monastery on Mt. Castellion.

Some time between 816 and 826 Smaragdus obtained royal protection for the abbey from Louis the Pious, ensuring that wagons, pack-horses and ships would be exempt from customs taxes on goods transported between the monastery and its lands.

Smaragdus achieved fame as a writer of homilies, and for his writings on the Rule of St Benedict.

Smaragdus, who died around 840, was succeeded as Abbott by Hadegaudus, who was probably elected by the monks themselves.

Abbots in the tenth century included Odon I, followed by Sarovard, followed by Odon II, who died in 995.

Over the years, the abbey proved very popular with royalty, emperors and kings and dukes. In the 11th century, for example, it came under the protection of Gérard, Duke of Lorraine.

During the Middle Ages, the Abbey was famous for its relics, not least of which concerned Saint Anatole, Bishop of Cahors, whose body was reputed to have been transferred to Mihiel in 779.

The Abbey was dissolved during the French revolution.

Sculptures by Ligier Richier

Ligier Richier was a 16th-century religious sculptor working in Lorraine, France and known in particular for his depictions of scenes from the "Passion of Christ". The various episodes of the Passion, between the arrest and the crucifixion of Christ, as recounted in the Gospels (Matthew 27, Luke 22, Mark 15, John 19), were increasingly subject to representation in the Arts towards the end of the Middle Ages, in tandem with the growing popularity of the staging of theatrical mystery plays.

Little is known of Ligier Richier's personal life as a consequence of the scarcity of records available. Thus attribution of works to him faces the same constraints and often relies on the scholarship of people such as Paul Denis, particularly his thesis "l’artiste et son œuvre" published in Paris and Nancy in 1911. A good example of the scarcity of information available is the extent to which researchers have relied on the writing of the Troyes pilgrim Chatourop, recorded through the writings of dom Calmet, for information on the works at Notre Dame in Bar-le-Duc and Saint Pierre in Saint Mihiel. Paul Denis rejects the idea that Richier travelled to Italy and had contact with Michelangelo.

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