Jan III van Merode and Anna van Gistel's Tomb

The tomb of the spouses Jan III van Merode (1496-1550) and Anna van Gistel is located in the Saint Dymphna’s Church in Geel. It was created by the architect and sculptor Cornelis Floris de Vriendt (1513/14 - 1575), considered one of the most influential artists of the Flemish Renaissance.
In the sixteenth century, Jan III van Merode was among the promoters and financiers of the renovation of the hospital of Geel, founded in the thirteenth century by Hendrick III Berthout and built on the site where, according to legend, Dymphna was killed.
The funeral monument was described with these words1: "[…] Jan III van Merode approved the cenotaph before he died on January 18, 1550. The cenotaph presents the contrite spouses, their hands eternally joined, a lion at the extremity of the lord in armour and the faithful dog crouched at the feet of the baroness. The work was completed in 1553 by Cornelis Floris de Vriendt, and immediately admired: in his Antiquitates illustrissimi ducatus Brabantiae, precious guide and precursor published in Brussel by Jan Mommaert in 1610, in the tenth chapter Johann Baptist Gramaye says it splendidum & artificio nulli in vicinis provinciis cessurum monumentum.
And with reason: no other funeral monument in the area achieves the composure and rigour of the Gothic tradition with the plastic naturalism of the Italian practice, which the author had learnt while frequenting Michelangelo. And no one else is so proudly placed at the centre of the scene, at the foot of the high altar, on which stands a gigantic polyptych, open for more than six meters, in silent dialogue of atonement and holiness with the austere couple, viaticum for a hoped eternity".
The tomb is also well depicted in the nineteenth century painting Jules Victor Génisson viewable here: http://balat.kikirpa.be/photo.php?path=B028084&objnr=79018&nr=3


Another picture of the tomb: http://balat.kikirpa.be/photo.php?path=KN003701&objnr=71415&nr=53

  • Page layout and text by Jessica Casaccia moc.liamg|acissejaiccasac#| (December 2020)


- Villa R. 2008. Incesti irlandesi e apoteosi brabantine, Belfagor, 63, 2.

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