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Church monument

 

Church monument

A church monument is an architectural or sculptural memorial to a dead person or persons, located within a Christian church. It can take various forms, from a simple wall tablet to a large and elaborate structure which may include an effigy of the deceased person and other figures of familial or symbolic nature. It usually resides immediately above or close to the actual burial vault or grave, although very occasionally the tomb is constructed within it. Sometimes the monument is a cenotaph, commemorating a person buried at another location. A recumbent effigy in a church can be placed at either a tomb or a cenotaph.

Once only the subject of antiquarian curiosity, church monuments are today recognised as works of funerary art. They are also valued by historians as giving a highly detailed record of antique costume and armour. From the middle of the 15th century, many figurative monuments also represent genuine portraiture.

For details of the stylistic development of church monuments in various regions of the World, see:

  • English church monuments
  • French church monuments
  • German church monuments
  • Italian church monuments
  • Spanish church monuments
  • Eastern European church monuments
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