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A jewel in Jacques Cœur's treasure room

In the treasure room, don't miss the delicate sculpture of the famous lovers Tristan and Yseult. But what secret lies behind this work of art?

A sculpture of rare finesse

After visiting the attic, let's climb a few steps up to the keep and enter the treasure room. As you pass through, you'll notice an iron door adorned with heart-shaped nail heads: this is Jacques Coeur's house!

You'll immediately be drawn to one of the lamp arches in high relief depicting a scene from Tristan and Yseult. It's a medieval literary myth, a sort of medieval Romeo and Juliet, with a tragic ending.

Tristan and Yseult, after drinking a filter of love normally destined for King Mark and Yseult, are doomed to be eternally in love.

The sculpture depicts the scene in which Tristan secretly rendezvoused with the beautiful Queen Yseult. King Marc being warned by the dwarf Frocin wants to surprise them, so he hides in the tree by the fountain. Fortunately, Tristan and Yseult see King Marc's face reflected on the surface of the water, and exchange only innocuous words.

This is a sculpture of rare finesse and grace, in both costume and gesture: Yseult delicately removes her crown and folds back the flap of her dress with her other hand.

The cul-de-lampe tells us every detail of this encounter, right down to the reflection of the king's face, engraved at the bottom of the fountain, at the lovers' feet.

Iseut à la fontaine
Iseut à la fontaine

© Alain Lonchampt / Centre des monuments nationaux

Jacques Cœur and Agnès Sorel ?

Rumors have it that the lovers were Jacques Cœur and the dame de Beauté, Agnès Sorel, the first official mistress of a French king. King Marc would then be Charles VII, spying on them.

Agnès Sorel and Jacques Coeur enjoyed a close friendship. One suspects that Jacques Cœur's trade with the Orient brought him fabrics of rare quality and precious stones such as the sapphire commissioned by Charles VII. Agnès Sorel made Jacques Coeur her executor, but there's nothing to suggest a more intimate relationship, as Jean Christophe Rufin suggested in his novel Le Grand Coeur...

What may raise questions is that this high relief was hidden behind a wooden cabinet. Was it deliberately hidden from prying eyes?

Roi Marc

© Palais Jacques Cœur / Centre des monuments nationaux

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