Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Chartres- What Can I Say?

Chartres......Endlessly fascinating, endlessly new and surprising whilst visiting old friends, each time something new catching the eye. There is something to be said for revisiting old places, things change, your seeingness changes,you change, details you had never noticed jump out, patterns  emerge, and you marvel at the sheer size of this extraordinary outburst of faith and sculpture in stone- the only thing you have to add in your own mind is colour, but aren't the best stories where your imagination has to  fill the gaps?

Yes the Madonna and child revered by many has changed, the dress however is looking  a bit dreary and dare I say it dirty, you almost feel  like offering to make another?

 I saw a marvellous exhibition in Lyon  in the Museum of textiles of  processional dresses worn by  Madonna and child including modern interpretations- they were so colourful and inventive. At the time I refrained  buying the catalogue, but I regret it now because they are not to be found anywhere high or low. The  Madonna on the right I photographed last year and the one on the left I photographed yesterday and the pear wood has been given a clean as you can see.

 And the figures on the different portals. The ones on the left on the Royal Portal and the ones on the right on the North Portal. The  figures of the north portal are more frequently seen in photographs but the ones on the royal portal are more fascinating in my mind. I guess the elegance of the arms of the ones on the right are more accomplished, but I love the individuality of the faces of the royal portal.

The sweetness of expression of this queen of the royal portal  is entrancing I find, and then the adornment of her dress on her right shoulder- I wonder what it means, what symbol it's communicating? I have looked but cannot find anything about it. Too many bits of information go missing down the march of time.

And then there is the patterning of the columns within the cathedral- many of the small decorative columns have been finely carved in sections measuring approximately 4 inches by about 18-20 inches high. There is a discernible difference in the style of sculpting the patterning whilst maintaining an overall uniformity- one can image men in workshops working on their bits of stone and marble chiselling away to a design. Was it drawn out in detail? The image on the left whilst arches also reminded us of trees, and then there is the wonderful bestiaries. The detail in these are amazing given their size, and there are so many and they would have been coloured in medieval times.

And of course there is all the marvellous stained glass- although this one of the  Madonna and Child containing the famous Chartres blue which is actually the pales blue is my favourite window and tells the story of the lineage.

And then there is this puzzling little relief- in this one , it appears to be feminine but in other reliefs it was more androgynous- always arms raised, in some the genitals perhaps more exposed with the giving birth of something bulbous, but not apparent , usually but not always surrounded by bestiary- what does it mean?


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