The Well of Moses, the Chartreuse (Charterhouse) de Champmol

Claus Sluter
polychromed and gilded stone

Note: these slides were taken of the careful reproductions located in the Musée National des Monuments Français, Paris.

The hexagonal pedestal

In this Carthusian monastery, patronized by Philip the Bold of Burgundy, there are a number of works by Sluter and his assistants--architectural sculpture on the portal, Philip's tomb, and this surviving hexagonal pedestal of a larger grouping of figures, known as the Well of Moses. Originally a Crucifixion group with a cross rose high above this pedestal. Below it was a baptismal font.

King David

Six prophets in niches with enframing colonettes are on each side of the hexagon. They include Moses, David, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Daniel, and Isaiah--all of whom carry banderoles with their prophesies. Their expressions and gestures indicate the urgency of their prophesies--see the turned and alert figure of Daniel below (to the left of Isaiah).

Moses (left) and Jeremiah (right)

The most famous of the prophets, Moses, seems theatrically angry. The dramatic folds in the voluminous drapery add to the expression of the figure. The horns on his head are typical in medieval art--a mistranslation of the Bible for "rays" of light.


Isaiah with Daniel to the left

The expressive and individualized faces of the prophets


The mourning angels

The angels with their outstretched wings arch above the prophets and provided a transition with the original Calvary grouping above the pedestal.

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© 2000 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

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