Friday, May 17, 2013

Bourges Cathedral of St. Etienne, Architecture and Sculpture

Vicki finished up early enough at Chenonceaux for us to drive over to Bourges that same day and see its great Cathedral of St. Etienne. We had visited Bourges on one of our first visits to France and remembered it as a knock-out. It is in that first generation of classic Gothics, along with Chartres, Amiens, and a few others. It was begun in the late 12th century and finished in the mid-13th. But Bourges is unusual in several respects, all of which make it even more interesting. It is not a Mary cathedral, for one thing, despite that great age of the Mary cult. And its shape is more the traditional Roman basilica, not the cruciform shape one sees almost everywhere else. Bourges cathedral is also seemingly much larger than many of the others, and higher. It has a nave and two aisles on either side, and thus five great halls. And portals. The additional aisles support extra tiers of blind triforia and then also extra tiers of windows. It's hard to convey this in either words or pictures. One has to be there and walk around the place, in wonder and awe, as was no doubt what was intended. I had not seen a real Gothic in some months and so was quite taken by it all.
Classic view;OK, there's some roofing going on

The great thing about not having a transept is you can see
 all the buttressing...

Another helpful model

Inside: the height and width are astounding

An aisle; this would be a whole Gothic
church in some places; at Bourges it is one
of four such aisles

Elevation: aisle, triforium, windows, 2nd
triforium, 2nd windows

Interior and color from the great high windows

Thus, over the apse


High triforium and windows

Outside, the west facade and its five portals; more than my
poor lens can capture!

Central portal, as became the custom: the Day
of Judgment; Vicki, ominously,  at Jesus' left

A great Hell...

And many other great bits: Noah's Ark

Eve chatting with her serpent friend

And, something we have come to look for and enjoy: a bit
of Medieval social history: wine-making

And grape crushing

And maybe too much tasting

And some great, intact, jamb statues

1 comment:

Tawana said...

Fabulous church. We have not seen it...have to put it on our list!