Hugues Libergier and his Instruments

Hugues Libergier and his Instruments

By Nancy Wu

Nexus Network Journal, vol. 2, no. 4 (2000)

Introduction: One of the most frequently illustrated images of a medieval architect is the tomb slab of Hugues Libergier, who in 1231 began the construction of the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise in Reims. Hugues (d. 1263) has been immortalized by this famous effigy which, originally located at Saint-Nicaise, was moved to the Cathedral of Reims in 1800 after the destruction of the rémois abbey. Since 1887 it has remained at its present location, mounted on the interior wall just to the west of the north transept doors. As can be expected from the effigy of an architect, it is accompanied by several instruments of his profession: a square, a compass, and a measuring rod. While these instruments are frequently found in conjunction with the representation of architects, whether on tomb slabs, sculpture, in construction scenes on manuscript pages or stained glass panels, it is the square to the right of Hugues that has received the most attention from scholars in search of the secrets of medieval construction.

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