Tuesday, May 20, 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




















Ambulatory















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.