Claus Sluter

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David and a prophet from the Well of Moses

Claus Sluter (1340s in Haarlem[1] – 1405 or 1406 in Dijon) was a sculptor of Dutch origin.[2] He was the most important northern European sculptor of his age and is considered a pioneer of the "northern realism" of the Early Netherlandish painting that came into full flower with the work of Jan van Eyck and others in the next generation.

Sluter probably worked in Brussels before moving to the Burgundian capital of Dijon, where from 1385 to 1389 he was the assistant of Jean de Marville, Court Sculptor to Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. From 1389 to his death he was Court Sculptor himself, with the rank of valet de chambre. He was succeeded by his nephew Claus de Werve.

He restored the monumental scale and naturalism of the classical era to figural sculpture. His later work is highly emotional, using facial expressions, figural stance, and drapery; this can be particularly seen in the heavy folds of cloth that so many later imitators draped around their figures. His most famous surviving work is the Well of Moses (1395–1403), created for the Carthusian monastery of Champmol built by Philip the Bold just outside Dijon (at the time - now part of the city). It still stands at the original site, within the grounds of what is now the Psychiatric Hospital and is open to the public. A few steps away from The Well of Moses one finds the portal of the former chapel of Champmol. This includes five figures sculpted by Sluter. Sluter was also responsible for the main part of the work on Philip's tomb, which (restored and partly reconstructed) has been moved to the Museum of Fine Arts which is housed in the former ducal palace in Dijon.[3]

Sluter was one of the sculptors of the famous mourners of Dijon, which occupy niches below the tombs of Philip the Bold, his wife Margaret, and John the Fearless.


  1. ^ [1] Netherlands Institute for Art History
  2. ^ Murray, P. & L. (1997). Penguin dictionary of art and artists (7th ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 492. ISBN 0-14-051300-0. 
  3. ^ Beth Harris; Steven Zucker. "Claus Sluter and Claus de Werve, Mourners, from the Tomb of Philip the Bold". Smarthistory. Khan Academy. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 

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