Canterbury Stained-Glass Exhibition

Twelfth- and thirteenth-century panels from the Great South Window of Canterbury Cathedral, which have been on tour in Los Angeles and New York (see Vidimus 72 and 77) have now returned to the precinct. Following on from the success of past exhibitions at home and abroad, visitors will soon have a second chance to see these panels – a series of almost life-size figures representing the ancestors of Christ – on display in the cathedral.

Fig. 1. Abraham. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral.

Fig. 1. Abraham. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral.

Each panel is approximately 2½ft tall, and each figure spans two panels, making the seated ancestors almost life-size. The panels were removed from the cathedral in July 2009 (see Vidimus 36) prior to the restoration of the stonework, and in order to allow for conservation work on the architectural framing of the window. Originally, the figures filled the choir and Trinity Chapel clerestory windows and were part of an eighty-six figure scheme, largely based on the list of names contained in the Gospel of St Luke (III, 23–28), interpolated with additional names from the Gospel of St Matthew (I, 1–17). When installed it was the largest known series of the genealogy of Christ in medieval art, not just in stained glass. Forty-three figures of the original series survive: nine in the choir clerestory, twenty-two in the south-west transept window (sXXVIII), and twelve in the west window (WI).

Seventeen panels from the south window will be on display in the Chapter House and another four can be seen in the Crypt.

The exhibition will launch this spring on Monday 18 May and run until Sunday 23 August 2015 (closed 13– 7 July); a series of lectures will also accompany the exhibition.

Contact the cathedral for more information.

Further Reading

M. H. Caviness, The Early Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, Princeton, 1977

M. H. Caviness, The Windows of Christ Church Cathedral Canterbury, CVMA (GB), II, London, 1981

M. H. Caviness, ‘Romanesque “belles verrières” in Canterbury?’, in Romanesque and Gothic Essays for George Zarnecki, ed. N. Stratford, Woodbridge, 1987, pp. 35–38

M. A. Michael, The Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, London, 2004

P. Collinson et al. (eds), A History of Canterbury Cathedral, Oxford, 1995

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