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Ligier Richier, sculptor of the Renaissance

Ligier Richier - transi

Ligier Richier, the greatest artist in Lorraine during the Renaissance, was born in around 1500 in Saint Mihiel, in the active and open community of elite craftsmen. Nothing is known about the years of training undergone by the young sculptor, but he must surely have benefited from the rich tradition of the "imagiers" (painters, sculptors and engravers) in the region, from the influences from Champagne and Burgundy, Flanders and the Rhine that came together on the banks of the Meuse, and from the humanist revival movement that animated the capital of the "Barrois non mouvant" area (to the west of the River Meuse).
From 1530, he was under the protection of Duke Antoine of Lorraine, for whom he did important work. Ligier Richier did work in wood, but preferred pale, soft limestone with its fine grain, and few veins, extracted at Saint Mihiel and Sorcy. He experimented with refined polishing techniques, with which he was able to give the stone a marble-like appearance. The innovative genius of Ligier Richier was also reinforced by the style and iconography spread by the engravings of Dürer and Mantegna, and also perhaps by painting and stained glass.

Converting to the Reformed Church, Ligier Richier finished his days in Geneva, the city of Calvin, in 1566 or 1567. After him, his son and nephews maintained the reputation of his workshop. The works of Ligier Richier which have survived to the present day are all inspired by religious or funereal subjects. The traditional character of his subjects - the Passion of Christ occupies a predominant place - does not take away from the originality of the grand, dramatic art of the Lorraine master, the heights his thoughts reached. They already brought him fame during his lifetime, and have made a great impression on poets and travellers down to the present day.
Ligier Richier - la pietà

The works of Ligier Richier

The Skeleton, or Flayed

Around 1550, Ligier Richier produced one of the most famous funerary sculptures of the Renaissance. The Skeleton is a "monument of the heart" for René de Chalon, brother-in-law of Duke Antoine of Lorraine. It comes from a radical, new, overwhelming creative inspiration.

The Holy Woman in a Bonnet
Perhaps from a convent in Verdun, this stone statue is placed in a mixed group made up of six statues coloured recently, of varying quality and from different periods.

The Pietà
The attributing of the Pietà in the parish church at Etain to Ligier Richier has never been disputed, but dating it has been a problem.

The Virgin, or the Lady of Génicourt
Everything in the church at Génicourt-sur-Meuse; the architecture, the furniture, the stained-glass windows, the painted decoration - all give the impression of a quality parish grouping from the time of Ligier Richier.

The Passion Reredos
The attribution of the reredos at Hattonchâtel, one of the most refined works of the Lorraine Renaissance, to Ligier Richier has sometimes been dismissed or bitterly disputed, but its link with the art of the sculptor of Saint-Mihiel has never been seriously doubted.

The Entombment of Christ
Recently restored, the Entombment or the Easter Sepulchre, is justly regarded as a peak of Lorraine sculpture in the 16th century, one of the most beautiful adornments of the rich heritage of Saint Mihiel, and one of Ligier Richier's major works.

Ligier Richier - la sainte femme au bonnet

Discover Ligier Richier in the Meuse

The Ligier Richier Route

The Ligier Richier Route allows the visitor to travel around the Meuse finding the most beautiful sculptures of the Lorraine Renaissance

Discover the Ligier Richier Route - Route Ligier Richier

St Michael's Church at Saint Mihiel

The abbey church of Saint Michael houses the Fainting of the Virgin, sculpted by Ligier Richier.

St Stephen's Church at Saint Mihiel

This church, with its very colourful stained-glass windows, houses one of Ligier Richier's major works, the Easter Sepulchre.

Saint Martin's Church at Etain

St Martin's Church, a splendid edifice, houses an exceptionally beautiful, flamboyant gothic choir, and a major work by the Renaissance sculptor, Ligier Richier: the Pietà.

St Stephen's Church at Bar le Duc

An elegant edifice in flamboyant gothic style with Renaissance details. This is a real museum-church, housing two major works by the 16th-century Lorraine sculptor Ligier Richier: Calvary and the famous "Skeleton" or "Transi".

Sites to be visited:

Meuse Tourist Board - Official website
33 Rue des Grangettes - F-55000 BAR LE DUC - Tel: +33 3 29 45 78 40 - Fax: +33 3 29 45 78 45
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