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Window

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1523-1535 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved stone

  • Credit Line:

    Given by J. H. Fitzhenry, Esq.

  • Museum number:

    531:1 to 42 -1905

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 50a, The Paul and Jill Ruddock Gallery, case WN, shelf EXP []

This window originally faced into the courtyard of the Chateau de Montal (Lot), in the Dordogne, some 50 kilometres north-east of Cahors. It was built for Jeanne de Balzac, the lady of the castle, and the Balzac arms are shown combined with those of Jeanne's late husband, Amaury de Montal (d. before 1520), in the lozenge-shaped shield at the centre.

Much of the decorative sculpture from the Chateau, including this window and another now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the date 1534, was taken down and sold at auction in 1903. Several of the pieces were subsequently retrieved and returned to the building in a thorough restoration in the decade after the sale.

This piece was sold on the 11th December of that year. Follwoing the restoration of the château, copies were made to replace the gap left by this fine piece, and for the other similar piece now in the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art.

The V&A acquired the window in 1905, at a time when the museum collected large-scale architectural sculpture on a regular basis, or took plaster casts of important architecturual features. In this case, the museum was able to acquire the real thing.

Physical description

Large dormer window in stone from a château.

Place of Origin

France (made)

Date

ca. 1523-1535 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved stone

Marks and inscriptions

'PLVS : DESPOIR'
'No more hope'

Dimensions

Height: 677 cm, Width: 320 cm, Weight: 262 kg part 10 only, Weight: 286 kg parts 7 and 8, Weight: 228 kg part 20 only, Weight: 150 kg parts 12, 13, 14, 15, Weight: 280 kg part 29 only, Weight: 296 kg part 28 only, Weight: 333 kg parts 38 and 39, Weight: 140 kg part 26 only, Weight: 283 kg parts 24 and 25, Weight: 373 kg parts 40, 41, 42, Weight: 307 kg parts 30 and 31, Weight: 233 kg parts 5 and 6, Weight: 167 kg parts 1, 2, 3, Weight: 235 kg part 21 only, Weight: 600 kg part 19 only, Weight: 479 kg parts 22 and 23, Weight: 253 kg part 4 only, Weight: 259 kg part 11 only, Weight: 222 kg parts 16 and 18, Weight: 294 kg parts 34 and 35, Weight: 127 kg parts 5A and 17

Object history note

This window originally formed part of the Château of Montal (Lot), some 50 kilometres north-east of Cahors. The mansion of Lot was built by Jeanne de Balzac in the years after 1523, and her arms impaled with those of her late husband Amaury de Montal (died by 1520) are in the lozenge-shaped shield. Her arms are azure three escalops argent, a chief or (for Montal) and azure three couped saltires argent, on a chief or as many couped saltires of the field (for Balzac) dimidiated. Her shield takes the form of a lozenge, or diamond, shape. Around the shield is decorative mantling of ribbons.

Facing into the château's courtyard, this dormer window is also decorated with two medallions containing classicising busts which flank the coat of arms. Above, in a niche, is a statue of a headless figure in Roman armour holding a skull. Underneath the pierced finial on ther summit of the window is the motto: 'PLVS:DESPOIR' , 'No more hope'.

Historical context note

In 1881 much of the fabric of the building was auctioned in Paris. However, at the start of the twentieth century what remained of the château was bought by the collector M. Fenaille, who persuaded some museums (such as the Louvre) to return pieces they had purchased at the sale. He made copies of those features he was unable to retrieve.

The V&A was presented with the window in 1905, at a time when the museum collected large-scale architectural sculpture on a regular basis, or took plaster casts of important architectural features.

Descriptive line

Dormer window, stone, with arms of Jeanne de Balzac and the motto PLVS : DESPOIR ('No more hope'), from the Château de Montal, France, ca. 1523-1535

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

P. Williamson (ed.), 'European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum' (V&A publication, London, 1996), pp. 114-115.
List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Years 1905 - 1908. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, During the Year 1905, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition with Appendix and Indices. London: Printed for His Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, 1909, p. 113
Michel, André. Le Chateau de Montal. In: Les Arts, no. 144 (December 1913)

Labels and date

DORMER WINDOW
Stone
French; about 1523-1535
Given by Mr J.H. Fitzhenry

The window originally faced into the courtyard of the Chateau de montal (Lot), about 50 Km to the north-east of Cahors, built by Jeanne de Balzac in the years after 1523. The Balzac arms are shown combined with those of Jeanne's late husband, Amaury de Montal (d. before 1520), in the lozenge-shaped shield at the centre. Under the pierced finial on the summit is the motto PLVS:DESPOIR (More than hope).
Much of the decorative sculpture from the Chateau, including this window and another now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the date 1534, was taken down and sold at auction in 1903. Several of the pieces were subsequently retrieved and returned to the building in a thorough restoration in the decade after the sale. [1999]

Materials

Stone

Techniques

Carving

Subjects depicted

Windows; Body armour; Coats of arms

Categories

Sculpture; Architecture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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