Entering Chartres Cathedral Through the Central Portal In the town of Chartres about 50 miles southwest of Paris, is where the Chartres Cathedral is located and can be seen for miles as it is the tallest structure and was built on the highest point of the town. Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chartres is its formal name but since the majority of the French Cathedrals were dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to avoid confusion the cathedrals are referred to the town to which they belong. The Chartres Cathedral has portals on the northern, southern, and western sides of the building.
Each of the Portals has three enormous doors that are surrounded by sculptures depicting scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary as well as a Colossal Rose Window, which is above the doors. The Western Portal also called the Royal Portal is the oldest part of the church and mostly built in the Romanesque Style that was a precursor of Gothic. After a fire in The southern transept portals’ sculptures are of the New Testament and depict scenes from the Last Judgment while the Rose Window is a stain glass masterpiece of The Glorification of Christ.
As you approach the central door, you are greeted by a statue of Jesus holding a book in one hand and appearing to be giving a blessing with his other, as his Disciples flank him on both sides of the jamb. The statue of Jesus is on the trumeau which is a column supporting a tympanum of a doorway at its center. Once through the door you are in the southern transept. This section of the cathedral is an arm of the Latin Cross that is the floor plan of all cathedrals. Just ahead is the Crossing, to your left is a side aisle of the nave, and to your right are the double aisles that lead to the area that is the back area of the Apse.
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The Apse is a rounded end (semi-circle) of a cathedral, church, or building that demonstrates its importance. Chartres Cathedral was constructed with double aisles to accommodate the large number of pilgrims who visited daily and who would pray in the Chapels. The back part of the Apse houses the Choir Screen, Choir Aisle (the first aisle), the Ambulatory (the second aisle), and seven Radiating Chapels. As you journeying towards the Apse, the next section that you will traverse is called the Crossing. This area is the center of the Latin Cross in the floor plan.
There are four massive columns that are as big as the North American Red Woods that mark the four corners. These columns were carved to appear to be a cluster of many smaller columns to give the appearance of being lighter in mass that they really are. As your eye follows the columns up you notice the Triforium an area of arches that form a gallery or an arcade, and the Clerestory the section that has the most stain glass windows to allow daylight into the interior. These areas form the upper two levels of the Nave in the Cathedral.
As your gaze continues upward you then began to notice the rib vaults that form the ceiling. As your eyes follow the ribs downward you notice the Piers that seem to sprout out of the columns that support the upper levels as well as the roof. Turning toward the right you are now facing the Choir this is the area that leads to the Apse. You have arrived. The Apse is cordon off by a low wrought iron prayer fence. This area is elevated by a series of wide steps that allow seating for the Leaders of the Cathedral, Alter, candles and other items used during Mass.
There are 15 stain glass windows on the Clerestory level and approximately 60 on the Triforium level creating a Bay that illuminates the Apse. A Comparison of Giotto’s Arena Chapel Nativity with that of Pisano in the Pisa Baptistery Pulpit Giovanni Pisano (1250 – 1315) and Giotto di Bondone (1266 – 1337) were contemporaries who are credited as geniuses of the Italian Renaissance because they both produced works that were correctly created from the natural world. The natural stances, proportions, and folds of the material are evident in each of their works.
Gone are the elongated bodies and stylized pleats and patterns of the Byzantine style, which preceded the Renaissance Giovanni was an Italian sculpture, painter, and architect who received his training from his famous father Nicola Pisano. Giovanni worked as his father’s apprentice up until his death (1284) this is when his sculptures began to have a more natural appearance. It is believed that Giotto was discovered by the Florentine Cimabue painter discovered Giotto drawing pictures of his sheep on a rock. They were so lifelike that Cimabue asked his father if he could take the boy as an apprentice.
Giotto was a painter, sculpture, and architecture, who is considered the first of the Italian Renaissance. Although Giovanni and Giotto worked in different mediums, the breadths of their works are of traditional religious subject. Giovanni’s Pisano Pisa Baptistery Pulpit is hexagonal functional sculpture carved from marble that is divided into three sections. The lower register has lions and other figures, with the lions depicted as vanquishing prey - a Romanesque symbol for Christianity triumphing over paganism.
The middle level depicts personified Virtues and Prophets, and the upper, has reliefs depicting events in the life of Christ. Giotto’s Nativity scene is one of 53 Frescos painted for the Arena Chapel that displays a host of Angels, shepherds, animals, Joseph asleep in the foreground, while a relaxing Mary and the Midwife place a swaddled infant Jesus into the manger. There is a similar scene in high relief of a reclining Mary and swaddled Jesus on one of the upper panels of the Baptistery Pulpit. It took Giovanni about 8 years to complete the pulpit while it took Giotto 5 years for the whole Chapel.
Although one may think that a painting is easier that a sculpture, the technique for creating a fresco is time consuming due to the need of only applying the wet plaster to the area of the wall to be painted in small patches. All the while temperature and atmospheric conditions could alter the paint as well as the drying time. Any areas that had a mistake would have to be cut out and the process would begin anew. The Baptistery Pulpit and the Nativity scene are both in some state of disrepair but to attempt to rectify this may further damage and take away from these great mater pieces.
Another notable similarity between the two pieces is the use of the chiaroscuro technique. This is the use of deep variations in and subtle gradations of light and shade, especially to enhance the delineation of character and for general dramatic effect. A few places in the Nativity scene Giotto used were to create the folds in the clothing and the crags seen on the mountains of the background. Giovanni was able to show this technique through the deep carvings, which cast shadows creating the light and dark areas.
Both pieces are filled with symbolism such as the personification of Fortitude on the middle level of the pulpit as Hercules and the painted ass that represents the unenlightened and the ignorant for it’s failure to recognize the significance of the moment. Both works were commissioned not only to beautify their surroundings, but also to inspire and to educate through an emotional experience by viewing the realistic scenes. References http://images. library. pitt. edu/cgi-bin/i/image http://www. mcah. columbia. edu/ha/panos/Chartres/nave/ http://www. medievalart. org. k/Chartres/Chartres_default. htm http://upload. wikimedia. org/wikipedia/commons/6/6d/Basilique_Saint-Denis_01. jpg http://www. mcah. columbia. edu/ha/html/medieval_chartres_ntransept. htm http://classics. uc. edu/~johnson/hum98/chartres-intext. asp http://teach2thrill. blogspot. com/2011/12/chartres-cathedral. html http://www. mcah. columbia. edu/ha/panos/Chartres/crossing/ http://www. sacred-destinations. com/france/chartres-cathedral http://www. medart. pitt. edu/image/France/Chartres/Chartres-Cathedral/Windows/Transept-windows/122A-South-Rose/Chartres-122SouthRose.
HTM http://www. GreatBuildings. com/cgi-bin/gbi. cgi/Chartres_Cathedral. html/cid_aj2831_b. html http://www. mcah. columbia. edu/ha/html/medieval_chartres_ambulatory. htm http://www. medart. pitt. edu/image/France/Chartres/Chartres-Cathedral/Architecture/Interior/Main-Level/Main-Int-Frame. html http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Giovanni_Pisano http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Nicola_Pisano http://www. ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/giotto/ http://www. wga. hu/frames-e. html? /html/g/giotto/padova/index. html http://www. bluffton. edu/~sullivanm/italy/pisa/baptistrypulpit/pulpit. html
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