BEVEREN, Mattheus van
(b. ca. 1630, Antwerpen, d. 1690, Bruxelles)

Funeral Monument of Lamoral

Terracotta, 73 x 89 x 17,5 cm
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

The house of the Imperial Postmaster-General Lamoral II Claudius Francis Count of Thurn and Taxis stood on the site of the present Petit Sablon. His patrician dwelling, one of Brussels' most sumptuous residences, lay opposite the church of Our Lady of the Sablon, for which he commissioned impressive works to embellish the octagonal Chapel of St Ursula. The entrance porch and the funerary monument that Lamoral ordered in 1676 from Mattheus van Beveren were both created at around the same time. The tomb, signed on the plinth, is dated 1678. From this spectacular white marble monument - undoubtedly one of the most attractive examples of European funerary architecture - the Brussels Museum possesses the virtuously modelled and finely detailed terracotta model.

This is the first example in the Low Countries of a funerary monument depicting an allegorical scene. It is not the deceased that is depicted here, but on the left Virtue and on the right, Time. The composition is theatrical: two pilasters and a rounded arch enclose the black marble niche in which the symbolic group stands. Virtus, a stately and attractively draped female figure who could have come from antiquity, holds in her two hands a chain to which is attached an armorial cartouche. To the right stands Tempus or Chronos, with his scythe, standing firm and at the same time trying to pull the shield towards himself. The central figure with the raised Theban trumpet is seen by various authors as being Fame or Fama. However, the text on the tomb in the funerary chapel tells us that this is the angel of the Last Judgment. The group should therefore be interpreted as follows: the person who lives virtuously is not worn down by time; through the voice of the angel of the last day and God's trumpet, the deceased is asking that his relations and everyone who visits his tomb wish him a blessed eternal life. The stately attitude of Virtue matches her determination, whilst the cramped pose of Time reflects the hopelessness of his enterprise and the angel's exuberant movement symbolises the flight into eternity.

Van Beveren drew his inspiration for this composition from an engraving by Nicolaas van der Horst, a pupil of Rubens, composed as the title print for the book Marques d'honneur de la maison de Tassis (1645).

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.