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STAINED GLASS



From the 12th century onward, the leading conception of divinity, derived from the Pseudo-Denis, maintains that God is Light and that His creations receive and transmit some part of this Light. "This concept holds the key to the new art - an art of light, clarity, and dazzling radiance." (G. Duby, The Age of Cathedrals).

Now, at the same time, master builders discovered a new architectural technique which enabled them to open up the walls and make room for huge windows.

 

More details about the synthesis of new architectural techniques and a new conception of divinity.

 

Stained glass served three purposes:
Being extremely brittle, these large glass areas were the first to suffer from damage wrought by time and by men, and both the late 18th century Revolution and World War II were terrible for the the church glass windows.

During the 19th century, new windows were designed to replace those broken during the Revolution, but unfortunately the 1940 and 1944 air raids smashed them too, except one window that had just been taken down for repair work in 1939 (so that it spent the war period in a wooden case, which saved it!) and some minor pieces that that have been refitted since.

This (restored ) window from the early 16th century shows musician angels.

Click to enlarge each angel: detail 1 - detail 2 - detail 3 - detail 4

More information about those musician angels that are found everywhere in 15th and early 16th century churches

Four-lancet window from the end of the 15th century showing various scenes from the Passion of Christ and of the life of John the Baptist. For instance, a Pieta in the left lancet, Baptism of Christ and Beheading of St John at the bottom, in the centre. The upper part of the window shows various scenes from the Passion, Christ before Pilate, Flagellation, Bearing of the Cross, etc...

Upper part of a 16th century window showing the Holy Women. In particular, one can see them land in Provence (South of France) and raising a child from the dead.

Detail of the window

An angel presents the dead baby to the Saint

Upper part of a 15th c. window showing the signs of the zodiac. For  medieval man,  this has nothing to do with the horoscope some people listen to when turning their radio on in the morning. The zodiac was always linked up with the months,  themselves related with agricultural activities.  It was used as a symbol of change and passage of time, as opposed to God's permanence and eternity.


In the left centre of the window, almost  at the top, you can easily recognize Libra and Scorpio ( on its left).  Under Libra, see Aries.


During the 19th century, new windows were put up to take the place of those that passing time and the Revolution had destroyed. Unfortunately the 1940-44 air raids smashed them all except a few fragments that could be brought together to reconstruct two windows, such as this one evoking the life of the Virgin.



Copyright 2005

Glossary

Stained glass : [XVth c.] [Modern : Bony] [Modern : Hermet & Juteau]

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