Survey of Western Art History
Extra Credit Points
February 9, 2010
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres dedicated to the veneration of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary inthe town of Chartres, is located in the department of Eure-et-Loir, in France. It is said that the robe of the Virgin Mary, the Sancta Camisia, was there during some decades. The robe was ceded by theEmperor Charlemagne who had received as a gift during his visit to Jerusalem.
Influenced by the Early Gothic style at Saint-Denis, the Chartres Cathedral reflects the transition from Early toHigh Gothic. Inspired by the belief that light and color illuminates the soul and unites it with God, the clerestory of Chartres was designed to be covered almost completely with stained glass,allowing light to permeate the interior with color. The clerestory is filled with pairs of tall, arched windows called lancets surmounted by circular windows, or oculus. The colored lights of gemstones andstained-glass windows and the glint of golden church furnishings transformed the material world into the splendor of paradise.
Architectural engineering at Chartres was also influenced byScholastic thought, such as numerical symbolism. An equilateral triangle – alluding to the Trinity – established the three points of the outer edges of the buttresses and the keystone of the vault in thenave.
In my opinion the most striking features of the west façade are its prominent round rose window and two towers, this what more attracts my attention. While the south tower dates fromthe 12th century, the north tower was built in the 16th century employing more sophisticated tracery technique. The flying buttress counters the outward thrusts of the vaulting over the nave and aisles.The Romanesque galleries are replaced with Gothic triforium, overlooking the nave through an arcaded screen that contributes to the visual unity of the interior, enhancing its vertical rhythm of...
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