Reims South Transept Rose Window

Have you got the impression yet that I’m very fond of rose windows?  An earlier post looked at the mostly original 13th century North Transept Rose Window in Reims Cathedral, and here is its twin, the South Transept Rose Window.

The structural form, the size and shape of both windows, is identical, but that is the only aspect of them that is the same.  They LOOK very similar at first glance, similar in age and style and type of imagery, but I’m disappointed to discover that this one is not original at all, it is a modern replacement.  The original 13th century south transept pair to the very old one in the north transept blew out in a storm in 1580.  It was rebuilt the following year, although perhaps not faithfully to the original design, but that matters little now because that whole window was destroyed in the First World War, anyway.  This replacement window was installed in 1937.

The window shows Christ in majesty in the centre, surrounded by 12 panels of worshipping angels, then the twelve apostles in roundels in the outer ring.  I imagine the theme and its realisation follows that of its predecessor fairly closely, but how similar this is to the original design I don’t know.

If you weren’t told this was not a 13th century original, I think you’d have to be an expert to be able to tell, because this is still a very beautiful window.

The rose window from the south transept of Notre Dame Cathedral, Reims, France

The rose window from the south transept of Notre Dame Cathedral, Reims, France

The central roundel from the south transept rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral, Reims, France

The central roundel from the south transept rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral, Reims, France

Some outer panels from the south transept rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral, Reims, France

Some outer panels from the south transept rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral, Reims, France

Advertisements

The pretty pastels of Lyon Cathedral

Lyon Cathedral has a few very nice 13th century stained glass windows.  It may once even have had as many of these as Chartres or Reims or Strasbourg, but not any more.   Unusually, many of the windows that are now in Lyon Cathedral don’t depict multicoloured saints or kings or scenes from the bible, but are much simpler, abstract patterns with one predominant colour or another.  There are pink windows, blue windows, yellow windows, purple and green windows.

Yellow, pink, and blue patterned windows in Lyon Cathedral

Yellow, purple, and blue patterned windows in Lyon Cathedral, southern France.

Green patterned windows in Lyon Cathedral

Green patterned windows in Lyon Cathedral

These may have been replacements for more traditional multi-coloured picture windows destroyed by revolution or some other cultural disaster, but they bathe the interior of this cathedral with some unique pastel tints, which soften its otherwise solidly muscular structure.  Lyon is not the most spectacular gothic cathedral, but because of these pastel windows filtering and colouring the light, it is one of the prettiest.

Looking back from the alter towards the main door with its rose window

Looking back from the altar of Lyon Cathedral towards the main door with its rose window

Looking up at the vaulting at the edge of the transept

Some of the elaborate vaulting of Lyon Cathedral

Looking down one of the side aisles of Lyon Cathedral

Looking down one of the side aisles of Lyon Cathedral

 

 

Another lovely rose window

I do like rose windows.  So here’s another one.

This one is at the end of the north transept in Reims cathedral, in northern France, and it tells the story of Adam and Eve.  In the 13th century, most people couldn’t read, and they wouldn’t have had access to any books, anyway.  All Bibles in those days were owned by the church and in Latin only, so the priests would recount and interpret the stories for their parishioners, and the windows in the church – like comic strips – would retell and reinforce some of the important ones.

The north transept rose window from Reims cathedral, France

The north transept rose window from Reims cathedral, France

In the centre of this window is God the Creator of all, and the Adam and Eve story is told clockwise in the panels radiating out from the Almighty.

Central panel detail showing God the creator of all

Central panel detail showing God the creator of all

At the 12 o’clock position, the story begins, with God creating the first people.  At 1 o’clock, we see Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.  The other panels show other parts of the story, sons Cain and Abel, Cain slaying Abel, and so on, although the sequence doesn’t chronologically follow the Genesis story.  For instance, in the 10 o’clock panel, below left, we can see Adam and Eve with the serpent, and then at 11 o’clock eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, yet their banishment from the garden for doing this occurs in the 8 o’clock panel.

Top three panels, showing scenes from the story of Adam and Eve

Top three panels, showing scenes from the story of Adam and Eve

This window was made between 1231 and 1241, and it’s possible that when the panels were removed for restoration in the 17th century they were replaced in the wrong order, but somehow that seems unlikely.  It may be that the story of Adam and Eve was so familiar that narrative sequencing was not that important  in recognising the content of the images.  Has anyone got a better explanation?

 

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Here is the magnificent Cathedral that dominates the centre of this great city.  Although their spires are often intended to be seen from a long way off, few cathedrals as a whole are as visible as this one, because over the centuries the surrounding towns have grown and encroached on the space they occupy and now obscure your view of them.  Notre Dame was built on an island in the middle of the river Seine in the heart of the city, so you can still see it clearly from almost every angle.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, Île de la Cité, Paris

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, Île de la Cité, Paris

Isn’t this a gorgeous building?  It has proportions as appealing as any classic car, and a satisfying symmetry that so many of its contemporaries lack.   I love its massive twin-towered facade, balanced by the semi-circle of flying buttresses propping up its ambulatory at the other end, and the massive rose window in between.

Chartres Cathedral Rose Window

Here’s a good place to start this blog.

Round windows in churches that were divided into segments with stone mullions and tracery radiating from a central point are sometimes known as ‘wheel windows’, or ‘Catherine windows’ (because Saint Catherine was supposedly executed on a spiked wheel), but in more recent times are generally known as ‘Rose windows’.

The South Transept rose window in Chartres Cathedral, made c.1225

The South Transept rose window in Chartres Cathedral, made c.1225

This gorgeous example is one of three rose windows in Chartres Cathedral, south of Paris, France.  This one is the south transept window, and it shows Christ Pantocrator (Lord of all) in the centre, surrounded by angels and apostles.  It’s very hard to see the actual detail of this from the floor of the church, unless you have exceptional visual acuity, so what you get when you’re standing there looking up at it is mainly the beautiful colourfulness of it.

It’s been there nearly 700 years, and isn’t it pretty?