As highlighted in the timeline below, this lesson spans 1134 to 1260 AD, and focuses on Chartres, France, which is very close to Paris.
Here is a map of France showing the cities of Chartres and Paris:
Chartres Cathedral is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture in France. Interestingly, the stained glass windows in Chartres are, for the most part, completely original. To have survived in the elements for roughly 900 years is nothing short of amazing. The artistry of the windows themselves is truly amazing as well.
EXAMPLEHere is an image of the Chartres Cathedral:
EXAMPLEHere is the western façade of the church:
The western façade of a cathedral is the primary entrance, as they are arranged west to east. Chartres Cathedral had a standard three portal entrance, and the tympanums were all filled with religious imagery. Sculptures adorn the supportive jambs that flank the doorways of these churches.
Chartres has a rather interesting style in that it had engaged portal sculptures constructed on the exterior of the church.
EXAMPLEPictured here are sculptures of two Old Testament kings and a queen, who are ancestors of Christ:
EXAMPLEThese are sculptures of Saints Martin, Jerome, and Gregory:
Saint Theodore is not pictured here, but is also included in these sculptures. These sculptures are naturalistic in their appearance, yet unnaturally elongated. This might have been done purposefully to fit the sculptures into the length of jamb itself.
These sculptures show the influence of humanism that penetrated this age, sometimes referred to as the Proto-Renaissance, and contributed to the rise of humanism during the actual Renaissance. Other examples of sculptures such as these are the Christ as Beau Dieu at Amiens Cathedral and the visitation jamb sculptures at Reims Cathedral, which are all in France.
Finally, on the exterior, the flying buttress supports enabled the wall to function as a support for stained glass rather than a support for the weight of the building itself. This specific element is a unique characteristic of Gothic architecture.
It is worth pointing out the numeric symbology of Chartres Cathedral.
Four is another important number. It represents the four cardinal directions of earth: North, East, South, and West.
The inside of the church is where we see the full effect of the walls filled with colored glass. Narratives or iconography important to the Church and Christ’s history fill these glass windows. The narratives were elaborate in the windows that lined the nave because they were closer to people, and could be seen in detail. Patterns of icons were easier to see from a distance.
EXAMPLEThe nave is pictured below.
EXAMPLEThe rose window located in the north transept describes the ancestry of Jesus and Mary.
The windows that lined the nave each had a theme. For example, the Charlemagne Window, which is not pictured, depicted a narrative about Charlemagne that included his departure from Spain.
EXAMPLEThe Jesse Tree, shown below, is another example depicting the important ancestral lineage of Christ. This time it’s displayed vertically with the image of Christ located at the top.
EXAMPLEThis final example is of the "Virgin and Child and Angels" window, more commonly called "The Blue Virgin" window because of her blue robes.
In this window, the Virgin Mary is enthroned with Christ in front of her and a dove near her head, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. The bottom three rows depict two stories. The first two are of the wedding feast at Cana, where Jesus turned water to wine, and the last row of that set depicts the temptation of Christ.
Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR IAN MCCONNELL.