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The Tableau Vivant - an Ephemeral Art Form in Burgundian Civic Festivities The importance of pageantry in the life of the Burgundian court and the cities of France and the Burgundian Netherlands has long been recognized by scholars working in the field of historical and theatrical studies.1 Only a few attempts have been made so far torelatetheatrical performances and ephemeral art to art objects of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries or to investigate the role of the artist in the preparation of pageants. Entile Male is one of the few art historians w h o has tried to define the role of mystery plays for pictorial representations of various kinds.2 In his chapter on "Art and the Religious Theatre" he describes the role of mystery plays mostly as a transmitter of ideas which had been developed in religious treatises of the time like the Meditations of the life of Christ attributed to Pseudo-Bonaventura or the Golden Legend by Jacopo da Voragine.3 Male tends to see this process of interaction as a one-way street from the literary texts via the mystery plays to the pictorial representations.4 Only on the last pages of this chapter does Male mention the Tableau Vivant which he characterises as being founded on the tradition of mystery plays, without further pursuing the question.5 *&! this context the following references proved to be useful, though this list of tides is by no means complete: E. Konigson and J. Jacquot, Les Fetes de la Renaissance, vol.3, Paris, 1975; E. Konigson, L'espace thiatral medieval, Paris, 1975; R. Jackson, Vive le Roi (1937), Chapel Hill, 1984; O. Cartellieri, Das Fasanenfest, A m Hofe der Herzoge von Burgund (1454), Historisch-politische Blatter fur das katholische Deutschland 167, 1921, 65-80, 141-158; O. Cancllieri, The Court of Burgundy, London, 1929; G.R. Kernodle, From Art to Theatre, Chicago and London, 1964; R. Wi thington, English Pageantry: a historical outline (1918), N e w York, 1963; L.M. Bryant The French Royal Entry Ceremony - Politics, Society and Art in Renaissance Paris, Iowa, 1978, repr. Ann Arbor, 1987; A.-M. Lecoq, La "Citra festiggiante". Revue de VArt 33, 1976, 83-100; R. Vaughan, Philip the Good, Apogee of Burgundy, London, 1970; R. Vaughan, Charles the Bold - the last Valois Duke of Burgundy, London, 1973; J. van der Elst The last flowering of the Middle Ages (1944), Port Washington, 1969. 2 E. Male, Art and the religious theatre, in Religious Art of the Late Middle Ages (1949), 1986. Hbid., 40-1. 4 That artiste did not necessarily have to go through the mystery play as an intermediate stage can be seen in the work of the Limbourg brothers. Some of the illuminations in the Tres Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry reflect the influence of the French version of the Meditations. The translation had been commissioned by Jean de Berry himself in 1380 and it seems to be most likely that Jean de Berry asked the Limbourg brothers to model some of the illuminations on the French text. See D. Eichberger, Bildkonzeption und Weltdeutung im New Yorker Diptychon des Jan van Eyck, Wiesbaden, 1987, 74. 5 E.Male, op.cit. Chapter 2.6, 76-8. 38 D. Eichberger Although Male's observations have been discarded occasionally because of his rather simplistic model of explanation, the importance of ephemeral art in the daily work of the late medieval artist should not be underestimated. The question whether the Tableau Vivant had an impact on late medieval art similar to that of the medieval mystery plays deserves further consideration. In many ways the Tableau Vivant seems to have been even more apt as a model for twodimensional art, as it can be described as an intermediate form between a stage performance and a static picture. This is only one of the reasons why the Tableau Vivant has to be seen as an artistic form equal in importance to the contemporary mystery play.6 According to the chronicles of court historians such as Olivier de la Marche and Chastelain, for example, the Tableau Vivant represents a dominant feature in civic festivities of French, Netherlandish and English cities of the fifteenth and sixteenth...


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