Prophets and Sibyls of Saint Sernin (Num. Ra R15 A to F)
The archives allow us to attribute the remarkable terracotta set Prophets and Sibyls created in 1523, to Jean Bauduy (active in Bordeaux between 1497 and 1530). Originally located in the chancel ambulatory of Saint Sernin Basilica, these sculptures were moved during the work undertaken by Viollet-le-Duc from 1860. The prophets predict the coming of Christ the Saviour, while the sibyls announce the joyful or painful mysteries of the life of Christ. Although their brilliant colouring has disappeared, these sculptures have lost nothing of the finesse which for many years led to the assumption that they were death masks. Their original placing, 2.5m from the floor, explains why they do not face straight outwards: they lean slightly downwards so as to look out at the faithful.
These details do not however solve the mystery of this unique work whose only equivalents are to be found in the contemporary Italian terracottas of Guido Mazzoni and Nicolo dell’Arca.