Photo: Steven Zucker (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Well of Moses

Claes Sluter, 1395 — 1404
Chartreuse de Champmol, Dijon

The so-called Well of Moses was originally located in the central courtyard of the cloister of the Chartreuse de Champmol, the Carthusian monastery near Dijon, founded in 1383 by Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. It is the work of the Netherlandish sculptor Claes Sluter. The monumental limestone sculpture was unfortunately damaged in the late eighteenth century. What remains at the original site today is a hexagonal pedestal with six life-sized figures of prophets and six weeping angels standing on slender columns between them. Particularly remarkable are the individual physiognomies of the prophets and the spatial effect of his figures, seemingly completely detached from the architecture. This, and the highly mimetic shaping of Sluter’s monumental figures were still unheard of at that time. It would take some years after Sluter’s death for this kind of approximation to reality to become more widely developed in Netherlandish sculpture.

Dagmar Preising, Curator of Sculptures and Graphics, Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen

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'Well of Moses' for the Chartreuse de Champmol Reconsidered

Article originally published by Susie Nash in The Burlington Magazine (2005)

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