Pious Memories

The Wall-Mounted Memorial in the Burgundian Netherlands


Wall-mounted memorials (or ‘epitaphs’) enjoyed great popularity across the Burgundian Netherlands. Usually installed in churches above graves, they combine images with inscriptions and take the form of sculpted reliefs, brass plaques, or panel paintings. They preserved the memory of the dead and reminded the living to pray for their souls. On occasions, renowned artists like Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden were closely involved in memorials’ creation.

In Pious Memories Douglas Brine examines the wall-mounted memorial as a distinct category of funerary monument and shows it to be a significant, if overlooked, aspect of fifteenth-century Netherlandish art. The patronage, functions, and meanings of these objects are considered in the context of contemporary commemorative practices and the culture of memoria.

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Brine received the 2015 Arthur Kingsley Porter Prize, for an earlier version of Chapter 5 of Pious Memories, his article, “Jan van Eyck, Canon Joris van der Paele, and the Art of Commemoration,” published in the September 2014 issue of The Art Bulletin.

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Douglas Brine, Ph.D. (2006), Courtauld Institute, teaches at Trinity University, San Antonio (Texas). He has held fellowships at the Courtauld Institute and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, and has published several articles on early Netherlandish art.
"Douglas Brine’s volume is a well-researched and clearly written work that seeks to characterize and contextualize wall-mounted memorials in the greater Netherlands over the “long fifteenth century” between approximately 1380 and 1520. [...] This volume will be of interest to both scholars of the arts and architecture and those interested in the religious and political environments of the era."
Mitzi Kirkland-Ives, Missouri State University

"The book is well-illustrated and indexed, with Appendices containing transcriptions of key documents. Thoroughly researched, it introduces much information previously only available in Dutch or German into English. It is a convincing and interesting approach to these fascinating and much under-studied objects."
Christina Farley

"His intelligent book will be very useful to anyone interested in forms of memorialisation. In its own quiet way it is a bit of a game-changer.
Brine writes accessibly and to the point, so his text is pleasantly manageable at arond 300 pages. The book is nicely produced with easily legible type of a convenient size. The main reproductions are very good quality, ... ."
Kim Woods, The Open University, UK

"Pious Memories is an important work for any medievalist as it shows how the memoria cult pertains to so many forms of medieval art and how there may be an unsuspected memorial purpose underlying works that now lack an epitaph or other identifying marks – and this is true not just of art in the Low Countries. Brine’s work thus raises our awareness of this often overlooked character and purpose of many medieval works of art, including portraits such as Van Eyck’s Léal Souvenir that has sadly lost its original frame and inscription that could have proved this point – and the identity of the sitter – once and for all."
Sophie Oosterwijk, School of Art History, University of St. Andrews


Acknowledgements ix
List of Figures xii

1 Introduction: The Wall-Mounted Memorial in the Burgundian Netherlands 1

2 Two Memorials to Two Seigneurs: Bauduin and Thierry de Hénin-Liétard 57

3 Commemorating the Canons of Saint-Omer 91

4 Commemorating the Canonesses of Nivelles 129

5 Jan van Eyck and the Virgin of Canon Joris van der Paele 179

6 Epilogue: The Wall-Mounted Memorial’s Sixteenth-Century Legacy 209

Appendix 229
Notes 245
Bibliography 273
Index 309
All interested in patronage, memoria, and the art of commemoration in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, especially in the Low Countries, and anyone concerned with early Netherlandish painting, sculpture, and metalwork.
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