Saint-Denis: Royal Tombs: Detail of one of four Virtues at the corners, Tomb of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany



Commissioned by Francis I in 1516, was completed only in 1531. Possibly designed by Guido Mazzoni or Jean Perréal, it shows signs of an attempt to combine the French and Italian traditions in a monumental style. The two naked recumbent figures of the King and Queen, visible through the arcading of the superstructure, were placed beneath representations of the royal couple shown kneeling at prayer on top of the monument. These strikingly realistic figures are attributed to Guillaume Regnault (ca. 1450-ca. 1532). The twelve representations of Apostles are seated under the arcades, and four Virtues at the corners.

The change during the Renaissance in attitudes towards the affirmation of the individual is reflected in the later royal tombs at Saint-Denis. As with the medieval tombs, some were commissioned for the abbey, while others were brought in at a later date from their original places in various Paris churches, having been dismantled during the Revolution and re-erected under the Restoration after the closure of Alexandre Lenoir’s Musée des Monuments Français. All these monuments were later installed in new sites, most recently in the chancel of the church, where they constitute both a museum of the Kings of France and an important display of French funerary sculpture. The tomb of the Dukes of Orléans, formerly in the Celestine church, Paris (destroyed 1795), was commissioned by Louis XII in 1502 and was the first to reveal signs of a taste for the Italian style. The tomb of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany commissioned by Francis I in 1516, was completed only in 1531. The tomb of Francis I and Claude of France, commissioned by Henry II from Philibert de L'Orme in 1548, reveals a similar spirit but is still more grandiose in design and execution; it gives the impression of being an independent building, a triumphal arch constructed entirely in white marble. In 1817, as a part of his attempts to wipe out all traces of the Revolution, Louis XVIII commissioned Edme Gaulle (1762-1841) and Pierre Petitot (1760-1840) to execute figures of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette respectively; the statues depict the monarchs in their coronation robes and were based on the type of praying figures produced in the Renaissance.


Attribute NameValues
  • G. Massiot & cie

  • Basilicas

  • Statues

  • Tombs

  • Architecture

  • Churches

  • Sculpture, French

Date Created
  • 1910-01-01

Date Digitized
  • 2007-01-01

Cultural Context
  • Nineteenth century

  • Baroque

  • Medieval

  • Renaissance

Place of Creation
  • Saint-Denis

  • Saint-Denis, Île-de-France, France

Departments and Units
Member of
Temporal Coverage
  • before or circa 1910

Record Visibility Public
Content License


Collections Featuring this Image
Architectural Lantern Slides of France


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