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Nave stained glass window, Chartres Cathedral, France by T. E. Smith-Lamothe

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
T. E. Smith-Lamothe T. E. Smith-Lamothe
Explore score
Print Pricing
$6.00 to $1,105.00
0.05 Gigapixels
Date added
May 09, 2009
Date taken
Apr 19, 2009

Canon G7


Scholars say that stained glass performed a didactic function: the peasants were illiterate in Medieval times and the clergy would use these colourful pictures in the windows to enhance their telling of Bible stories. But in a place like Chartres cathedral, the transporting ability of sunlight, colour, and glass takes over --- and for the Medieval peasant, the emotionally-uplifting conspiracy between architecture and artwork must have been spiritually overwhelming, too. Besides, some of the story-telling panels are too high to be visible from the floor of the church. This hand-held panorama of the "Noah's Ark" window in the nave of the cathedral was taken during celebration of a high mass with Gregorian-style singing, tempestuous organ-playing, and voluminous clouds of incense as a back-drop which only added to the dense spiritual atmosphere of the place. The cathedral itself was built over a period of almost 130 years between 1134 and 1260. During that construction in 1194, a fire almost destroyed the project, but enough of the structure survived so that finishing it was a viable option. Some of the stained glass survived this fire, so several of the windows are almost 900 years old. Much has been said about the "Chartres Blue" colour used in the windows here --- the urban myth being that we cannot recreate the colour in modern times. But although contemporary glass-makers can certainly recreate the colour blue in any shade, they cannot erode 2009 blue glass with 900 years of the patina of so much grit and grime! the mysterious "Chartres Blue" is a happy side-effect of aging.

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