REINER DE HUY
(d. ca. 1150, Neufmoustier)

Biography

Reiner de Huy (Rainer of Huy), South Netherlandish metalworker. In 1125 a 'Renerus aurifaber' is mentioned in a charter of Albero I, Prince-Bishop of Liège (reg 1123–8), to the collegiate church of Huy. At the time aurifaber could refer not only to goldsmiths but also to workers in other metals (except iron). Nothing more is known of Renerus aurifaber, and no work can be attributed to him with certainty. In the middle of the 14th century, however, Jean de Warnant, a resident of the Huy region, wrote in his chronicle that a citizen of Huy named Renerus had made the famous brass baptismal font of Liège and ornamented it with a number of scenes. This assertion was repeated in the Chronicle of Liège of 1402. From the late 19th century onwards Rainer of Huy was generally considered, on the strength of these chronicles, to be the modeller and caster of the bronze font now in the church of St Barthélemy, Liège, but originally in Notre-Dame-aux-Fonts, Liège, which served as the baptistery of the cathedral of St Lambert (destr. 1794).

According to a poem in the Chronicon rhytmycon, which was completed in 1119, Hellinus, Abbot of Notre-Dame-aux-Fonts (reg 1111–18), had commissioned the casting of the font, but it does not mention the artist. The basin is described as being ornamented with five scenes and supported by twelve cattle, while the cover bore the figures of the Twelve Apostles and twelve prophets. The cover and two of the cattle disappeared during the French Revolution (1789–95), but the font was preserved and transferred to St Barthélemy in 1804.