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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 50a, The Paul and Jill Ruddock Gallery

Window

ca. 1523-1535 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 44 parts.

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Materials and Techniques
Carved stone
Brief Description
Dormer window with arms of Jeanne de Balzac and the motto PLVS : DESPOIR ('No more hope'), carved stone, from the Château de Montal, France, ca. 1523-1535
Physical Description
Large dormer window in stone from a château.
Dimensions
  • Height: 677cm
  • Width: 320cm
  • Part 10 only weight: 262kg
  • Parts 7 and 8 weight: 286kg
  • Part 20 only weight: 228kg
  • Parts 12, 13, 14, 15 weight: 150kg
  • Part 29 only weight: 280kg
  • Part 28 only weight: 296kg
  • Parts 38 and 39 weight: 333kg
  • Part 26 only weight: 140kg
  • Parts 24 and 25 weight: 283kg
  • Parts 40, 41, 42 weight: 373kg
  • Parts 30 and 31 weight: 307kg
  • Parts 5 and 6 weight: 233kg
  • Parts 1, 2, 3 weight: 167kg
  • Part 21 only weight: 235kg
  • Part 19 only weight: 600kg
  • Parts 22 and 23 weight: 479kg
  • Part 4 only weight: 253kg
  • Part 11 only weight: 259kg
  • Parts 16 and 18 weight: 222kg
  • Parts 34 and 35 weight: 294kg
  • Parts 5 a and 17 weight: 127kg
Measured for the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries
Marks and Inscriptions
'PLVS : DESPOIR'
Gallery Label
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)
Credit line
Given by J. H. Fitzhenry, Esq.
Object history
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
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.
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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)
Collection
Accession Number
531:1 to 42 -1905

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record createdJune 27, 2005
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