Well of Moses of Claus Sluter

Well of Moses of Claus Sluter


At the end of the XIV century, wars and the importance of the House of Burgundy determined the move of the cultural and artistic center of the French sculpture to Dijon. There works the Dutchman Claus Sluter, whose influence will endure until the XV century included. Sluter adds to the realism a highly expressive force, involving the figures in broad sheets with broken folds. His masterpiece is the great Calvary he built in the Chartreuse, which is conserved the high pedestal known as the Well of Moses, in which his nephew Claus Werwe collaborated. It is made of marble.
This work dates from the late XIV and early XV centuries. It was created for the cloister of the Chartreuse de Champmol. At first, it was a monumental calvary for the cloister, with six figures of prophets in the base of the fountain: Moses, David, Jeremiah, Zechariah, Daniel and Isaiah, and only as a fragment, the Crucifixion. The sculptures appear totally free of the frame, as well as being equipped with an extreme naturalism. The human types are burly, with rotund volumes and great monumentality. Another characteristic is the way to capture the expressions, making sculptures authentic portraits.

You could only understand the phrases below each statue if you knew the religious context of each message. Religion in these statues is close. The prophets are not showed as messengers of a distant god, but impressive and admirable human beings.

This artwork belongs to the Gothic period. Gothic sculpture begins in the middle of the XII century in the Ile de France, reaching its peak in the XII century and reaching its latest manifestations in the first third of the XVI century. The Gothic sculptor abandon the Romanesque own conventions. The naturalism, the humanization of the divine, and the clear and orderly presentation are the essential characteristics of Gothic sculpture. This sculpture is from the late XIV century, where an original style of Burgundy is imposed, in which the art of the portrait is perfected and the dresses lose its multiple curves, which are become in broken folds, same as in painting. Scenes from real life and a sentimental trend that begin in the XIV century leads to pathos. The pathetic themes like Piety, bleeding Christs, skeletons gnawed by worms... are common. Also is neccesary to add that the Gothic sculpture is subordinate to architecture.

            In conclusion, the Well of Moses is the masterpiece of the sculptor Claus Sluter, and also, is as a perfect work that represents the Gothic style of the late XIV century, with an obvious religious character.
This artwork can be visited in the Chartreuse de Champmol, in Dijon, Burgundy, in France.

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