NOTRE-DAME DE CHARTRES cathedral in France represents the triumph of Gothic art. A pinnacle of mankind’s cultural achievement and spiritual expression, the cathedral blends architectural elements and artistic styles of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Unfortunately, over the centuries, the richness of the cathedral’s stone carvings and its stained-glass windows, which recount the biblical story of mankind, has suffered greatly from weathering, pollution and the breath of millions of visitors. Much of the cathedral is now in need of critical repairs.
As its inaugural project, American Friends of Chartres raised funds to clean and conserve the five lancet windows in the south portal — below the magnificent rose window — beginning with the central lancet of the Madonna and Child. Funding for this project was completed in April 2013.
The theme of the five lancets — that the message of the Old Testament prophets formed the foundation for the writings of the New Testament evangelists — is illustrated by depicting the evangelists sitting on the shoulders of the much larger Old Testament prophets. The central lancet shows Mary crowned as Queen of Heaven with a scepter in her right hand and the infant Jesus seated on her left arm.
The windows, executed around 1221, were commissioned by Pierre Mauclerc, first of the Dukes of Brittany through marriage to Alix de Thouars. They are shown with their children in the base of the lancets.