A gift from the gods

Beneath the relatively new rose window in Reims Cathedral that I wrote about yesterday are three large lancet windows, presumably also quite new, but not deliberately modern looking, at least, not compared to some other even more modern windows in this same cathedral.

The south transept rose window of Reims cathedral and the three lancet windows below

The south transept rose window of Reims cathedral and the three lancet windows below

From a distance, they look very pretty and very colourful.  They also look very busy, and there is no obvious theme or imagery that jumps out at first glance, you have to look very closely to figure out what is going on in them.

There are people with wings and haloes blowing trumpets and several people with just haloes looking saintly and making blessing gestures, but this is not a religious theme – at least not in a conventional sense.   Reims is the centre of the champagne-producing region of France, so these three large and complex windows are a celebration of the main industry in the area: wine making.  In the central rectangles of each lancet is the whole production story: workers tending the vines, picking and crushing the grapes, making barrels and bottles, and so on.  In the narrow rectangles down the sides of each lancet, all the wine producing areas of the Marne are listed and illustrated, Rosnay, Trigney, Avize, Dormans, Vertus, and many others.  (click the picture to enlarge it for the details)

 A closer view of the three lancet windows of Reims cathedral (I moved them a little closer together to show them all at once)

A closer view of the three lancet windows of Reims cathedral (I moved them a little closer together to show them all at once)

At the top of the central lancet there are two angels heaving to turn a wine press, while below there is another bewinged and haloed creature praising the red fluid coming out of the bottom of the press.

Closer view of the top of the central lancet in Reims cathedral south transept

Closer view of the top of the central lancet in Reims cathedral south transept

This whole tripartite window seems to be saying that wine is a gift from the gods.  I can relate to that.

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