Monday, May 19, 2014

Paris scènes, cinq: Basilique de Saint-Denis

Our set is complete! Over the past several years we have visited virtually all of the great French Gothic cathedrals. And then some. But, despite its great historic importance, we had been saving Saint-Denis for a visit to Paris--it is in the outskirts. And now we are here, and, with Norm and Marie in tow, we made our final pilgrimage, finally. Saint-Denis is generally recognized as the birthplace of what came to be known as Gothic. (It was also the burial place of French royalty, until they discontinued the royalty thing.) Saint-Denis is a bit of a hodge-podge, Suger's original narthex and chancel, a 13th-14th century nave (with glazed triforium!), and windows that are pretty much all modern. But it's Suger's 12th century innovation--combining elements mostly in existence already in the Romanesque, here and there--that attracts and rewards. Great height and light, glass, incredibly thin walls, pointy arches, buttressing. No one else had yet strung all those pearls together.
Facade; scaffolding; earlier, there were two non-symmetrical
tours; the north one dismantled for safety reasons...

Sculpture on the left tympanum; the others covered up for the preservation work

What's visible of the narthex

Nave elevation; glazed triforia! a big innovation in the 13th century

Nave view

Chancel, the oldest part

Choir, from a Normandy chateau...the originals no doubt burned in the Revolution

Some of the royal burial stuff; the custom then was to depict the depictee in
life (gloriously) above and in death below

Royal marble morgue

North rose window

Spare parts

Exterior elevation


Chancel view

Play of light

1 comment:

Tawana said...

I am sorry that there is scaffolding on the front. When we were there two years ago, the floor of the front of the church where pews or chairs should have been was covered in a huge platform for some kind of concert. We did enjoy seeing the marble depictions of the kings and queens even though none of the bodies were inside. Marie Antoinette and Louis (was that her husband?) do have their remains there, though.. It was an interesting church. There was a school group of small children there when we were there. They were sketching some of the tombs.