Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Leaving Cert. ART HISTORY notes on Chartres Cathedral

Wed. 6th Dec.

Please transfer the following notes after what you did today in class on stained glass & leave a page after this for the sketch of the rose window & Chartres Cathedral.

Eg. of a Gothic Cathedral :
Chartres Cathedral, Paris
  • Virgin Mary’s most sacred shrine at Chartres was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1194, but when the relic of the gown she wore giving birth to Jesus was found in the smouldering ruins, it was taken as a sign of a miracle.
  • A new church was immediately begun on the remains of the old one.  The resulting building was the largest church ever attempted and is today best preserved, with more of its original stained glass intact then any other medieval cathedral.
  • Chartres took over 300 years to build and over the years the style of building changed.  Traces of the original Romanesque structure can be seen on the west fa├žade of Chartres and the north tower was build nearly 300 years after the south tower was finished in the flamboyant late Gothic style.
  • Chartres was one of the first large buildings to use flying buttresses to their full potential and these support the upper side.  Inside, the cathedral is built in the shape of a cross with a central aisle and transepts forming the arms of the cross.
  • The effect upon entering the cathedral is one of light & space.  The slender pillars soar to join the criss-crossed rib vaulting on the roof, the sheer height of the building adding to the beautiful lighting from the many stained glass windows. 
  • Three large rose windows (called this because of their shape) adorn the cathedral, one on each transept, another over the west door facing the altar.
  • These three rose windows as well as the tall pointed lancet windows which surround the church tell the story of Mary, Jesus & the saints, as does the sculpture around the three doorways.
  • The west front, known as the royal portal, is the oldest of these and is so called because of the solemn line of column statues that stand on either side.  Tall & linear, they are almost part of the architecture, but their costume & drapery is treated in a decorative manner.  All life is concentrated in the expressions on the faces of these strange kings & queens whose identity is not fully known, but they appear to represent men and women from the old testament.
  • This is one of the first examples of a Gothic doorway in France.  The doorways have sculptures of Mary & the Ascension of Christ on either side.  The centre is devoted to Christ in Majesty. 
  • Statues of Kings & queens from the old testament stand around the portals.  The style of the figures on the sides is inferior to those in the centre, suggesting that the master carved the centre himself and the assistant the sides.

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