(b. ca. 1500, Saint-Mihiel, d. 1567, Genève)

Tomb of René de Châlons

after 1544
St. Étienne, Bar-le-Duc

Grim naturalism rises to the macabre in the famous skeleton on the tomb of René de Châlons now in the church of St Étienne at Bar-le-Duc. The attribution to Richier is not based on documents and is by no means certain, but the statue is evidently the work of an artist of Lorraine, and other examples of the same manner are to be found in the eastern provinces. The revival of the Late Gothic love of skeletons is here evident, but the treatment is different. The edge is taken off the horror by the manner in which the shreds of flesh and skin which partly clothe the bones are made into decorative patterns like torn parchment; and the virtuosity of the performance distracts one from the grisly theme.