ROOME, Jan van
(active 1498-1521)

Tomb of Margaret of Austria

1516-32
Alabaster
Monastère Royal de Brou, Bourg-en-Bresse

The church of Saint-Nicolas-de-Tolentino at the royal monastery of Brou at Boug-en-Bresse was the burial site of Margaret of Austria and her beloved husband, Philibert II of Savoy, as well as Philibert's mother Margaret of Bourbon. A masterpiece of Flamboyant Gothic, this architectural complex and its interior embellishment, including the tombs, was a long-term project commissioned by Margaret and lasting from 1506 until her death in 1530. Margaret's tomb was designed by Loys van Boghem and Jan van Roome.

Margaret of Austria employed a succession of architects and sculptors on this project, among them Conrad Meit, who was engaged between 1526 and 1531 to produce a life-size recumbent figure of the archduchess for each of the tiers of her tomb monument.

Both secular and sacred aspects are evident in Margaret of Austria's tomb at Brou. Every inch of the alabaster monument has been intricately carved with rich, multiple moldings. The heavy canopy carries an ornate and idiosyncratic tracery motif, while its weight is disguised by four elaborately worked tabernacles that cover the corner piers. These tabernacles ascend along various paths toward the central pinnacle, the clarity of their form partly obscured by simulated vegetal incrustation.