Welcome to Beaune, the beating heart of Burgundy for centuries! Let’s discover together the Hospices de Beaune, this magnificent hospital which received patients from 1452 to 1982.
The man who founded the Hospices de Beaune, it’s him!
This man who faces the Virgin in this magnificent 15th century painting by Jan Van Eyck is immensely rich. His name is Nicolas Rolin. He is chancellor (in other words, prime minister) of the powerful Duke of Burgundy. During most of his life, he will know only looting, betrayals and violence because it is the Hundred Years War, during which he allies himself with the English, before turning around and allying himself with the King of France.
His wife is desperate for so many sins committed by her husband. She begs him to find a way to save his soul and earn his place in paradise. The salvation of the souls of the Rolin couple will go through a great project that is still alive today: the creation of a hospital dedicated to the sick and the poor: the Hotel-Dieu de Beaune was born. The Hospices de Beaune still exist today and continue their mission of assistance to the elderly and patients. Since 1982, patients have been received in modern buildings and the old buildings of the Hospices are open to visitors.
> Jan Van Eyck, the Virgin of Chancellor Rolin, Louvre Museum, Paris.
Polyptych of the Last Judgement Rogier van der Weyden. Portrait of Nicolas Rolin
Polyptych of the Last Judgement by Rogier van der Weyden. The Archangel Saint Michael weighs the souls in order to direct them towards hell or heaven.
Polyptych of the Last Judgement Rogier van der Weyden. Portrait of Guigone de Salins.
The refinement went so far as to provide a beveled edge in order to limit shadows and ensure the most aesthetic rendering of the final composition. Decidedly, nothing was left to chance for this building intended to accommodate the needy. The roofs of the Hospices de Beaune are truly marvelous!
Construction of the Hôtel-Dieu began in 1443. From the outset, Nicolas Rolin was not reluctant to spend money. In particular, he had the building covered with four-color glazed tiles.
The tiles of the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune were moulded by hand and then left to dry in the open air, but sheltered from the sun and rain. Once dry, a glaze was placed on the lower half of the tile: this mixture of lead, sand, clay and metal oxides was vitrified during firing.
This film of glass, depending on the glaze applied, gave the tile the colors light green, dark green, reddish-brown, or yellow. Some were even bicolored.
The Hospices are not just a building, they are above all a domain. In fact, since their creation, many benefactors have donated real estate and vineyards to the domain. Today, the Hospices domain has about 60 hectares of prestigious vineyards. The auction sale of the 45 vintages is held every year on the 3rd Sunday of November. It is one of the largest charity sales in the world.
Did this major work by Nicolas Rolin and Guigone de Salins allow them to save their souls and earn their place in paradise? No one knows, but the hospices are, without a doubt, the most beautiful story of Beaune.
Enjoy Fontainebleau organizes for you a tailor-made day in Beaune to discover the Hospices, visit a cellar, taste great wines and stroll in this authentic and charming town. To discover in 2021 definitely!