MEDIEVAL SCULPTOR, German
(active 1230s)

Tomb of Henry the Lion and his Wife Matilda

1230s
Limestone
Cathedral, Braunschweig

Around the middle of the 12th century in northern France the 'gisant'.an effigy of the deceased lying on his or her tomb, became widespread. This form of funeral monument was increasingly used, particularly in the burial places of secular rulers. The earliest example of a tomb of this kind in Germany, executed about 1230-40 in the form of a double tomb, is in the cathedral at Braunschweig. It is the tomb of Henry the Lion and his wife Matilda.

Henry the Lion is depicted slightly larger than life-size on the sculpted tomb which is placed above the sarcophagus buried below it under the floor. He holds a model of a church to identify him as the founder of the cathedral of St. Blaise (St. Blasius), which he had rebuilt and richly endowed after his return in 1173 from Jerusalem and Constantinople. The sword with a band wound round it, which Henry holds up against his shoulder with his left hand, shows that he also has jurisdiction. He is portrayed as generous and just, and his wife, with her diadem, as pious and virtuous. Matilda lies, a slightly shorter figure, beside her husband; with her hands folded in prayer she draws her cloak over her body.