Saint Matthew

Anonymous
1688

This statue of Saint Matthew, sculpted in 1688 for the Namur Corporation of Carpenters was acquired by the Pierre-François Tilmon Fund.

Matthew, a tax-collector from Capernaum, who became one of Jesus’s apostles, was the author of one of the four New Testament Gospels.

Hagiographic accounts report that Saint Matthew was killed by the blow of an axe. The doloire, used by carpenters, joiners and coopers, is a type of axe used to level the surface of a piece of wood. This is why Matthew became the patron saint of the Namur Corporation of Carpenters, which assembled “the barrel makers, image makers and wood turners”.

Represented standing upright, with a halo above his head, the statue holds a silver doloire in his right hand and an open bible in his left hand. The year 1688 is stamped on the axe. Four miniature representations of the saint, also in silver, adorn the corners of the plinth. The latter is also interesting because it bears four images in low relief that illustrate the work of the wood turner, the box maker (who made chests and boxes), the image maker and the barrel maker.

The Carpenters’ Corporation was very powerful in Namur. The Musée Provincial des Arts Anciens du Namurois has a large heritage relating to the crafts and corporations of Namur, including several silver medallions (known as affliges) and ceremonial chains worn on important occasions. The magnificent carpenters’ afflige, dating from 1509, is the oldest in the collection. The acquisition of this statue has enabled the Museum to further expand the theme of corporations in the eponymous room.

Further reading:
J. TOUSSAINT (under the direction of), Corporations des métiers à Namur au XVIIIe siècle, in coll. Monographies of the Musée Provincial des Arts Anciens du Namurois-Trésor d’Oignies (TreM.a), 14, Namur, 1998.
J. TOUSSAINT, Corporations de métiers à Namur, in coll. Guide du visiteur of the Musée Provincial des Arts Anciens du Namurois-Trésor d’Oignies (TreM.a), 1, Namur, 2000.
A. CARLIER, De l’apprenti au maître ... Explique-moi les métiers, in coll. Cahier pédagogique of the Musée Provincial des Arts Anciens du Namurois-Trésor d’Oignies (TreM.a), 3, Namur, 2009.

Further information about the Pierre François Tilmon Fund (in French)

Type: 
Sculpture
Material / technique: 
Polychromed oak and silver
Dimensions: 
133 cms high
Type of acquisition: 
Pierre-François Tilmon Fund acquisition
Year of acquisition: 
2009
Depository institution: 
Musée Provincial des Arts Anciens du Namurois – Trésor d’Oignies (TreM.a), Namur