The divine authority claimed by the legitimate heir is not sufficient to preserve and protect his power. Upon his accession Charles V multiplies the symbols of his superiority and of his prosperity. The lion is his emblem.
To maintain the chain of legitimacy they must also rehabilitate the ineffective Jean II. In the very first year of his reign Charles V decides to build the funerary monuments of Jean and of Jean's parents in the traditional necropolis of the Capétiens at Saint-Denis. He adds the commission for his own tomb, which is a considerable innovation for the time.
The contractor of the four monuments is the best sculptor of that period, known from a royal document as Andreu Bauneveu, André Beauneveu in modern French. The king is powerful and must be honored as a priority : his gisant (recumbent) is the best of the four with a beautiful polishing of the white marble. Beauneveu worked until 1366 on that site.
The royal monuments of Saint-Denis were dismantled in 1793. The outstanding pieces were recovered by the archaeologist Alexandre Lenoir, founder at the request of the government in 1791 of the Musée des Monuments Français for collecting artworks confiscated to the clergy by the Révolution. During the Restauration in 1816 King Louis XVIII obliged Lenoir to relocate to Saint-Denis what remained from the monuments of the necropolis including the gisant of Charles V by Beauneveu.
The monument of Charles V included a group of two addorsed lions which was placed at the feet of the king. This group was only known from one sketch drawing made by an antiquarian scholar. It has just been rediscovered in the descendance of an English collector who had acquired it in 1802, certainly bought to Lenoir whose financial backing was low at that time.
This group of lions is a marble of the same quality as its gisant and certainly executed by the same artist. The fixing points of this statue match exactly the distance of the associated points on the feet of the gisant.
The Beauneveu lions, 45 x 29 x 12 cm, will be sold as lot 10 by Christie's in London on July 6. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
SOLD for £ 9.4M including premium