JEAN DE LIÈGE
Head of Bonne de Francec. 1361
White marble, height 22,8 cm
Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp
Bonne de France was the daughter of the French king, Charles V and Jeanne of Bourbon. The little princess died on 7 November 1360, aged no more than one or two, seventeen days after the death of her sister Jeanne. A funeral monument to commemorate the two princesses was installed in the abbey church of Saint-Antoine-des-Champs in Paris in 1364. It was decorated with recumbent statues of the girls. This little head is the only surviving trace of the tomb, which disappeared at the time of the French Revolution.
It was customary in the Middle Ages for the deceased to be portrayed schematically, without a great deal of attention to their individual features. What makes the portrait of Bonne de France so innovative is its immense realism. The sculptor succeeded brilliantly in conveying the characteristics of a young child. That is not to say, however, that the portrait is a naturalistic one. Although we cannot compare it with that of the other princess, Bonne's sister Jeanne, it is unlikely that the artist could have produced a faithful portrait four years after the little girl had died.
The sculptor Jean de Liège produced a number of works for Charles V, including a memorial for the hearts of Charles and Jeanne d'Evreux, and a monument for Blanche and Marie de France.