Gothic art in France

The walls opened up and light poured in...

c. 1200 - 1400

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Humanizing Mary: the Virgin of Jeanne d’Evreux
Humanizing Mary: the Virgin of Jeanne d’Evreux

Mary’s swaying hip, elongated neck, and tender touch of the Christ Child all imbue this golden sculpture with grace. A pomegranate signals death.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris
Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

Glass fills a staggering three quarters of this chapel’s walls. The entire building serves as a reliquary for the crown of thorns.

Amiens Cathedral
Amiens Cathedral

Above the entrance to Amiens, animated figures and flowing drapery attest to the increasing naturalism of Gothic sculpture in the 13th century.

Reims Cathedral
Reims Cathedral

Weightless walls of glass and lifelike sculpture—in its freedom and invention, the great cathedral at Reims typifies High Gothic style.

Bible moralisée (moralized bibles)
Bible moralisée (moralized bibles)

A luxury reserved for royals, moralized bibles paired image and text. Their commentary compared 13th-century bad guys to biblical villains.

Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres
Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres

Chartres boasts a multicolored ceiling and famous blue stained glass. The west front survived a fire, as did the miraculous tunic of the Virgin.

Birth of the Gothic: Abbot Suger and the ambulatory at St. Denis
Birth of the Gothic: Abbot Suger and the ambulatory at St. Denis

Evoking the heavenly through shimmering, colored light.

Saint Louis Bible (Moralized Bible or Bible moralisée)
Saint Louis Bible (Moralized Bible or Bible moralisée)

This visually dazzling manuscript helped lift King Louis IX to sainthood. A dedication page shows the book’s illuminator at work.

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