Актуальные проблемы теории и истории искусства

ДОИГ АЛЛАН (Оксфордский Университет, Великобритания). Гордость и покаяние: памятник Алисе Чосер в историческом контексте

ALLAN DOIG (University of Oxford, United Kingdom). Pride and Penitence: The Alice Chaucer Monument in Its Historical Context

Deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, in a fold in the landscape, lies the small village of Ewelme where in the parish church one of the greatest European medieval sculptural monuments is to be found. In the final bay of the arcade between the Chancel and the Chantry chapel is the tomb of Alice Chaucer, Duchess of Suffolk and granddaughter of the consummate poet, Geoffrey Chaucer.

The monument is carved in alabaster with a full-length effigy of Alice in court robes with the insignia of the Order of the Garter on her arm. She is an imposing figure. Above her is a magnificent canopy, also carved in alabaster, as is the rest of the monument. The tomb chest is surrounded by angels bearing the coats of arms of some of the grandest individuals and families in the land, all connections of Alice. Below the tomb chest is open tracery, revealing a confined space containing a second effigy of Alice in death, her hand barely holding the shroud sufficiently to maintain her modesty. The wizened semi-naked figure gazes with half-open eyes at paintings of her patron saints on the soffit of the tomb-chest, visible to the living only with the awkward use of a hand-mirror.

This complex monument is not just an example of the contemporary taste for the macabre, it is an encapsulation of the sense of inner conflict in the face of a deep uncertainty, both in this world and the world to come. It shows both pride and penitence, which is also demonstrated in her patronage which surrounds the monument, the Foundation of God’s House. The Foundation included the Chantry Chapel, a cloister of almshouses attached to the west end of the church, and beyond them the village school. Remarkably all three continue to function, though worship in the chapel was decoupled from its role as a chantry at the Reformation.

The Foundation of God’s House carried out perpetual good works in educating the young and housing the poor, who in turn would pray for the Founders and their family, and the chaplains would say masses for their souls as part of a tariff in an economy of salvation, so to speak.

In a sense this charity is a remarkable survival, but there are many other examples of almshouses, schools and Colleges that have been refounded, placed under new statutes, or otherwise transformed into modern institutions, for example almshouses in nearby Abingdon (also under the patronage of Alice’s husband), Eton College and King’s College Cambridge (both founded by Henry VI to whom the Duke was chief advisor) to name only a few. Patronage and the religious doctrine driving it were on the cusp of change.

sculpture, monument, patronage, chantry, purgatory, politics

скульптура, памятник, покровительство, часовня, чистилище, политика