Sculpture Journal

The sculpted epitaph

Sculpture Journal (2017), 26, (2), 235–248.

Abstract

This ‘Sources and Documents’ section presents the longest sculpted epitaph on a medieval tomb in western Europe, comprising just short of 1,700 words. The Latin inscription has been translated into English for the first time and is accompanied by a comprehensive photographic record. The epitaph belongs to a fifteenth-century monument commemorating João I, King of Portugal, and his English wife, Philippa of Lancaster, situated in the centre of the Founder’s Chapel at the monastery of Batalha in Portugal. Straddling the threshold between text and image, art and literature, sculpture and chronicle, epitaphs have been overlooked in traditional accounts of memorial sculpture. The inscription at Batalha raises important questions about the status and function of the epitaph during the fifteenth century, a time at which attitudes towards the written word – and its sculpted manifestations – were undergoing a radical transformation in western Europe. The feature is supplemented by a conversation with Dr Pedro Redrol and Dr Joana Ramôa Melo on issues surrounding recent and ongoing initiatives at Batalha: the exhibition, Places of Prayer (2015), and the interpretation project, Revealing Medieval Colours.

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Author details

Barker, Jessica