Major works | Earthly & Spiritual Matters
The Entombment theme in sculpture first appeared in the 15th century in the Burgundy and Champagne regions. Inspired by mediaeval religious theatre, this subject (highly fashionable until the 16th century in France) died out the following century.
In Flanders, entombments came later, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. No longer made exclusively out of stone like the Burgundy and Champagne sculptures, but usually out of polychrome wood, they were the handiwork of local craftsmen. This difference of material is above explained by the shortage of stone in this region.
Placed either under the altar table or in grottos laid out in side chapels, they follow an iconographic programme that tends to showcase the Passion of Christ, a very popular devotion in Flanders.
Entombments generally comprised eight figures: Christ, the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, two holy women, Nicomedus, Saint Joseph of Arimathea and Saint John. The latter three sculptures have in all likelihood been lost.