Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Chartres III: Windows

I am a great fan of the medieval imagination.

In the first place, the unknown stained-glass artists of Chartres, trying to make the stories of the Bible come alive for a largely illiterate population of pilgrims, did not hesitate to enlarge upon the basic texts in colorful and detailed ways. Thus we have the dramatically vivid red, yellow, and green ark and pink vultures of the Noah Window; the Prodigal Son's misadventures, which in the Chartres version involve loose women and gambling; and Mary Magdalene's arrival in Provence.

Secondly, many of the windows were paid for by the various guilds of the city, and they themselves -- pharmacists, shoemakers, wheelmakers, etc. -- are represented in numerous windows.

And finally, many of the windows explicitly connect the stories of the Old Testament to those of the New -- a feature that my own Jewish students would find disturbing, but that medieval pilgrims to Chartres would have characterized as reassuring and instructive.

From the Noah Window: Vultures finish off the drowned.

I can neither remember nor find what this one is. I'm guessing, due to the barrel, that it's a donor window -- wine or beer merchants?

One of the Donor Windows: The Farriers (Donors of the Window of the Redemption).

The Redemption Window: King David sits with a pelican feeding her young her own blood -- symbolism obvious (see the gargoyle pelican in the July 30 entry).


Linda said...

I am humbled by the accounts of your travels and awestruck by your wonderful photos. You are a fascinating teacher in the way that you write and I appreciate learning from you as you share your experiences here.

betty said...

thanks; I learned some new things today....great pictures too


Carol said...

Your photos are so vivid and beautiful and I'm loving the history lesson as well. Thank you for taking the time to share all of this wonderful information.

jo(e) said...

I love stained-glass windows. Just beautiful.