MEDIEVAL SCULPTOR, Portuguese
Sarcophagus of Pedro I1360-67
White limestone, length over 3 m
Abbey church, Alcobaça
Gothic style became widespread in Portugal from the late 13th century. The most significant field for commissions was that of funerary sculpture. A type of funerary monument was to prove influential: the sarcophagus, supported by lions, with a recumbent effigy and a Gothic blind arcade with figures of saints around its side. The most splendid examples are two sarcophagi in the abbey church at Alcobaça: which bear witness to the love affair between the future king Pedro I (1357-67) and Inês de Castro, his wife's lady in waiting.
After succeeding to the throne in 1357 Pedro ordered the making of the two sarcophagi for himself and Inês, murdered by his father. The sarcophagi, with their dainty architectural subdivisions and the iconographically remarkable reliefs, densely packed with figures, are like exquisite carvings in ivory. The tragic love story is evoked by scenes at the head of Pedro's sarcophagus, fitted into a rosette-like wheel of fortune.