Friday 27 October 2017

Tomb of Francois II Duc de Bretagne

During my visit to Nantes earlier in the year I was lucky enough to visit a number of stunning churches and cathedrals. My favourite was Cathedrale de Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul, its sheer scale and quiet, tranquil atmosphere was beautiful in itself, yet there were so many incredible details and unique elements to be seen within the Cathedral. One of these incredible sights to behold was the Tomb of Francois II Duc de Bretagne and his wife Marguerite de Foix.

I suppose in the vast grandness of the Cathedral it might be easy to pass by a tomb, even one as elaborate as this. However I'm not one to carelessly pass by any monument to the macabre. My ongoing interest in Gisants is always well satisfied in France, and the Duc de Bretagne's Tomb was no exception.
Instantly I was struck by the stunning sculptures which made up the massive monument. At each corner of the Tomb stands one of the four cardinal virtues, each with its own symbolic elements representing each virtue. Courage stands armor clad forcing a mighty dragon from the tower cracking under her might. The great serpent figure represents Satan and the root of evil. Temperance holds reigns and a clock, representing restraint, balance and self control. Justice holds a double edged sword and the book of law with balanced scales upon it, both representing balanced, fair judgement. And lastly, my favourite of the sculptures, is Prudence. The image looks to have been closely modeled to resemble the daughter of Francois II, Anne de Bretagne. She gazes into a looking glass, holding a pair of compasses, representing self discipline, guidance through wisdom and reason. At her feet sits a snake, which along with the mirror is the symbolism typically associated with this virtue and used in many personifications of 'Prudentia'. Most intriguingly the face of an emotionless old man sits within her hood, staring blankly towards the Gisants of the dead. The old man, perhaps, represents the inner wisdom of Anne de Bretagne.

The Gisant's of Francois and Marguerite lay recumbent in in their state of eternal rest, looked upon by angels and protected by the most loyal creatures at their feet. A Lion lays by the feet of the Duke, a symbol of his dynasty and adorned with his coat of arms, while a Greyhound wears his wife's heraldic shield.
Around the Tomb itself stand mourners, the 12 apostles and the patron saints of the deceased. Each one in carved in tiny scale and incredible detail, just one of the many exquisite details of the Tomb.

The craftsmanship of the Tomb is second to none. It was commissioned in 1499 by Anne and her new husband King Louis XII of France. The Tomb took 8 years to complete and was designed and created by the most skilled, talented craftsmen of the time. Michael Colombe sculpted the Tomb from the finest Marble sourced by an Italian artisan. The Tomb has survived being moved, the revolution and over 500 years of history, but now rests back in the Cathedral at Nantes where Anne wanted a fitting monument to her parents to honour their memory forever.

The Tomb is one of the finest examples of sculpture I have seen outside of a museum. With an incredible fineness and haunting realism the ghostly white marble faces look out through history mourning what must have been two truly loved people.



Sunday 22 October 2017

Stag Beetle Hand Painted Cards

A couple of years ago in the spirit of doing something a little different I decided to do a small run of hand painted cards. These featured one of my favourite subjects to draw; Stag Beetles. But as ever, the creepy critters had to have a twist. And with my lifelong obsession with Ancient Egypt a contributing factor I created 8 slightly strange Beetles adorned with gold and jewels or emanating an unholy halo. Two beetles sold soon after their creation, but the others ended up in the deepest, darkest corner of my studio, neglected and forgotten about, until now ...

After rediscovering the pieces I decided to dig them out of their hidey hole to offer them for sale on the Etsy store as a unique opportunity to to own an entirely on off miniature specimen and pocket sized piece of art ... Click here to check them out!

Thursday 12 October 2017

Flora and Fauna Cards

Brand new greeting cards featuring designs from my 'Flora and Fauna' series and my Moth illustrations are available now from the Etsy store! New for Autumn 2017 the cards are the perfect pocket sized pieces of art to frame, give as a gift or even have nestled among your house plants.

The pieces of the 'Flora and Fauna' series, also available as A4 prints, celebrate in the rich history and symbolism of flora and fauna in traditional culture and folklore. Each piece is carefully created to communicate specific messages to the viewer, celebrating both the beauty of nature and its deep rooted messages.

The Moth illustration cards, one featuring British Haw Moths and the other, Tiger Moths, indulges in my love of Moths and their beautiful, vibrant patterns. Who said Moths were boring?!

To check out the new cards available on the Etsy store now Click here!

Sunday 1 October 2017

Marlpool Cemetery

On what transpired to be on of the hottest days of the year it was fitting to do something I love so much; walking. Wandering among wildlife and absorbing the beauty of nature is something I thrive upon. So making the end destination of a many miles walk a local cemetery, and finally a tiny ale house for some refreshment and rest bite from the heat was to me a perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday.

Like so many local cemeteries many monuments are faded and forgotten, with nature taking hold, years of erosion and poor weather felling these stony tributes, or far worse; vandals getting a cheap laugh out of the desecration of the memory of some mysterious man.

I wandered in the barmy haze, as ever pondering on the stones and their inscriptions, thinking about the lives which lay behind these few short words and how the world must have been for them. Suddenly I stumbled across one of the most striking inscriptions I've ever read 'Daniel Stirland. Aged 52. Who was killed by lightning at Heanor. August 11th 1890.' I can't imagine that was an everyday occurrence in Victorian Derbyshire. What was even more surprising was that after some subsequent research into newspaper archives it appears to have been during a cricket match!

There really are so many stories to tell hidden behind the long forgotten names of those which lay before us ...