Pardon our dust while we update this corner of the website.

Tomb Effigy of a Recumbent Knight from the Abbey of Sainte-Marie, La Genevraye, Lower Normandy

Artist/maker unknown, French

Made in Normandy, France, Europe



13 9/16 inches × 70 5/16 inches × 23 inches (34.4 × 178.6 × 58.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 315, European Art 1100-1500, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds from the George Grey Barnard Collection, 1945

Social Tags

13th century [x]   birds [x]   european art 1100-1500 [x]   european decorative arts and sculpture [x]   french [x]   funerary [x]   knight [x]   limestone [x]   medieval period [x]   normandy [x]   stone [x]   tomb [x]  

[Add Your Own Tags]

This tomb effigy may represent a member of the noble du Merle family. A seventeenth-century description of the sculpture identified the knight as François du Merle, who founded the abbey of Sainte-Marie in La Genevraye, France, around 1160. The birds carved on the shield are heraldic figures known as martlets (or merle in French), perhaps a punning reference to the family name. However, the coat of arms used by the du Merle family in later centuries does not include birds and so the connection remains tentative. The description mentioned above also states that the sculpture was placed on a two-foot-high base decorated with coats of arms that likely signaled the distinguished ancestry of the deceased.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.