Thursday, 22 January 2015

Amiens Cathedral.


Text and Illustrations from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia,
unless otherwise stated.


File:Picardie Amiens2 tango7174.jpg

English: Amiens Cathedral, Somme, Picardie, France. The chancel.
Français: Notre-Dame d'Amiens, Somme, Picardie, France. Le chœur.
Photo: 2 September 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Tango7174.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens (FrenchCathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), or, simply, Amiens Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic Cathedral and Seat of the Bishop of Amiens. It is situated on a slight ridge overlooking the River Somme, in Amiens, the administrative capital of the Picardy region of France, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) North of Paris.

Mediaeval Cathedral builders were trying to maximise the internal dimensions, in order to reach for the heavens and bring in more light. In that regard, Amiens Cathedral is the tallest complete Cathedral in France, its Stone-Vaulted Nave reaching an internal height of 42.30 metres (138.8 ft) (surpassed only by the incomplete Beauvais Cathedral). It also has the greatest interior volume of any French Cathedral, estimated at 200,000 cubic metres (260,000 cu yd).



English: Rose Window of the North Transept,
Amiens Cathedral, France.
Deutsch: Kathedrale von Amiens, Frankreich;
Rose des Nordquerhauses.
Photo: 17 August 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Welleschik.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Cathedral was built between 1220 and 1270 and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Although it has lost most of its original Stained Glass, Amiens Cathedral is renowned for the quality and quantity of early 13th-Century Gothic sculpture in the main West Façade and the South Transept Portal, and a large quantity of polychrome sculpture from later periods inside the building.


File:0 Amiens - Cathédrale Notre-Dame (1).JPG

EnglishAmiens (Somme - France). 
Facade of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens (1220-1269).
FrançaisAmiens (Somme - France), 
façade de la cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens (1220-1269).
DeutschAmiens (Département Somme - Frankreich), 
die fassade von die (Kathedrale Notre Dame d’Amiens (1220-1269).
EspañolAmiens (Somme (departamento) - Francia), 
la fachada de la Catedral de Notre-Dame de Amiens (1220-1269).
NederlandsAmiens (Somme - Frankrijk), de gevel 
фасад Амьенский собор (1220-1269).
中文亞眠(索姆省 - 法国), 亚眠主教座堂 (1220-1269).
Photo: 23 July 2012.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The lack of documentation, concerning the construction of the Gothic Cathedral, may be, in part, the result of fires that destroyed the Chapter archives in 1218 and, again, in 1258 - a fire that damaged the Cathedral itself. Bishop Evrard de Fouilloy initiated work on the Cathedral in 1220. Robert de Luzarches was the architect until 1228, and was followed by Thomas de Cormont, until 1258. His son, Renaud de Cormont, acted as the architect until 1288. The chronicle of Corbie gives a completion date for the Cathedral of 1266. Finishing works continued, however. Its floors are covered with a number of designs, such as the Bent Cross (to symbolise Jesus' triumph over death). The Labyrinth was installed in 1288. The Cathedral contains the alleged head of John the Baptist, a relic brought from Constantinople by Wallon de Sarton as he was returning from the Fourth Crusade.

The construction of the Cathedral at this period can be seen as resulting from a coming together of necessity and opportunity. The destruction of earlier buildings and attempts at rebuilding, by fire, forced the fairly rapid construction of a building that, consequently, has a good deal of artistic unity. The long and relatively peaceful reign, of Louis IX of France, brought a prosperity to the region, based on thriving agriculture and a booming cloth trade, that made the investment possible. The great Cathedrals of Reims and Chartres are roughly contemporary.



English: Magnificent Choir Stalls (1508-1519).
Amiens Cathedral, France.
Français: Détail des stalles de la cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens, 1508-1519.
Photo: 3 August 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Vassil.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The original design of the Flying Buttresses, around the Choir, had them placed too high to counteract the force of the Ceiling Arch pushing outwards, resulting in excessive lateral forces being placed on the vertical Columns. The structure was only saved when, centuries later, masons placed a second row of more robust Flying Buttresses that connected lower down on the outer wall. This fix failed to counteract similar issues with the lower wall, which began to develop large cracks around the late Middle Ages. This was solved by another patch, that consisted of a wrought iron bar chain being installed around the Mezzanine Level, to resist the forces pushing the Stone Columns outward. The chain was installed red hot to act as a cinch, tightening as it cooled.


File:AmiensCathedral-North01.jpg

Amiens Cathedral.
View from the North, with 
Flying Buttresses and Fleche (Central Spire).
This File: 3 August 2007.
Author: photographed by User:VincentdeMorteau, cropped by MathKnight.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The West Front of the Cathedral, built in a single campaign, 1220 – 1236, shows an unusual degree of artistic unity; its Lower Tier, with three vast deep Porches, is capped with the Gallery of twenty-two over-life-size Kings, which stretches across the entire façade beneath the Rose Window. Above the Rose Window, there is an Open Arcade, the galerie des sonneurs. Flanking the Nave, the two Towers were built without close regard to the former design, the South Tower being finished in 1366, the North Tower, reaching higher, in 1406.


File:Cathedrale d'Amiens - nef depuis le triforium.jpg

EnglishOur Lady of Amiens Cathedral
(Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France.
The Nave, seen from the Triforium.
Français: Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens, 
nef vue du triforium.
Photo: 25 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Eusebius (Guillaume Piolle).
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Western Portals of the Cathedral are justly famous for their elaborate sculpture, featuring a Gallery of locally-important Saints and large eschatological scenes. Statues of Saints, in the Portal of the Cathedral, have been identified as including the locally-venerated Saints Victoricus and GentianSaint DomitiusSaint Ulphia, and Saint Fermin. The Spire, over the Central Crossing, was added between 1529 and 1533.

During the process of laser cleaning in the 1990s, it was discovered that the Western Façade of the Cathedral was originally painted in multiple colours. A technique was perfected to determine the exact make-up of the colours as they were applied in the 13th-Century. Then, in conjunction with the laboratories of EDF and the expertise of the Society Skertzò, elaborate lighting techniques were developed to project these colours directly on the façade with precision, recreating the polychromatic appearance of the 13th-Century.


File:Amiens cathedral 030.JPG

(Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France.
The Last Judgment Tympanum.
Photo: 9 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


When projected on the statues around the Portals, the result is a stunning display that brings the figures to life. The projected colours are faint to photograph, but a good quality DSLR camera will provide excellent results, as shown below.

The full effect of the colour may be best appreciated by direct viewing, with musical accompaniment, which can be done at the Son et lumière shows, which are held on Summer evenings, during the Christmas Fair, and over the New Year.


File:Amiens cathedral Son et lumière 001.JPG

(Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France.
Son et lumière, July 2007.
This File: 9 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


File:Amiens cathedral Son et lumière 003.JPG

(Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France.
Son et lumière, July 2007.
This File: 9 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


File:Amiens cathedral Son et lumière 002.JPG

(Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France.
Son et lumière, July 2007.
This File: 9 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


Amiens Cathedral contains the largest Mediaeval Interior in Western Europe, supported by 126 Pillars. Both the Nave and the Chancel are vast, but extremely light, with considerable amounts of Stained Glass surviving, despite the depredations of war.

The Ambulatory, surrounding the Choir, is richly decorated with polychrome sculpture and flanked by numerous Chapels. One of the most sumptuous is the Drapers' Chapel. The cloth industry was the most dynamic component of the Mediaeval economy, especially in Northern France, and the cloth merchants were keen to display their wealth and civic pride. Another striking Chapel is dedicated to Saint Thomas of Canterbury, a 13th-Century dedication that complements the Cathedral's own very full list of Martyrs.

The Interior contains works of art and decoration from every period since the building of the Cathedral.


File:Amiens cathedral 029.JPG

(Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France.
The Portals on the West Front.
Photo: 9 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The initial impetus for the building of the Cathedral came from the installation of the reputed head of John the Baptist on 17 December 1206. The head was part of the loot of the Fourth Crusade, which had been diverted from campaigning against the Turks, to sacking the great Christian city of Constantinople. A sumptuous Reliquary was made to house the skull. Although later lost, a 19th-Century replica still provides a focus for Prayer and meditation in the North Aisle.



The unutterable beauty of The Nave,
Amiens Cathedral, France.
[Editor: Compare this wonderful photo with the one, below.
Do you prefer The Nave with Modernistic trappings attached ?
Or without ?
Which is better ?]
Date: Pre-1923.
Photographer: William Henry Goodyear (1846–1923).
Institution: Brooklyn Museum.
Source: Brooklyn Museum.
(Wikimedia Commons)



The Nave,
Amiens Cathedral, France,
[Editor: Compare this photo with the one, above.
Do you prefer The Nave with Modernistic trappings attached ?
Or without ?
Which is better ?]
Photo: 3 February 2007.
Source: Own work.
Author: Anoneditor.
(Wikipedia)


Some of the most important works of art are sequences of polychrome sculpture, dating mainly from the Late-15th-Century and the 16th-Century. A large sequence, in the North Transept, illustrates Jesus' Cleansing of the Temple, with imaginative tableaux of the Temple. Both sides of the Ambulatory are lined with sequences illustrating the lives of the two Saints, whose cults brought large numbers of pilgrims to the Cathedral, John the Baptist and Saint Firmin, the first Bishop of Amiens. The artists took care to create a parallelism in the telling of the stories: Both Saints, decapitated for offending the rich and powerful, suffer neglect and loss, until a later generation discovers their Relics and houses them fittingly.

The Baroque Pulpit, constructed of marble and gilded wood, dominates the Nave of the Cathedral. It is supported by three allegorical female figures, apparently representing Faith, Hope and Charity, the three Theological Virtues.


File:Amiens cathedral 028.JPG

(Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France.
Photo: 9 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


File:Amiens cathedral 019.JPG

EnglishAmiens Cathedral
Chapel of Notre Dame du Puy. The statue on the left, Saint Genevieve, 
was transformed into a goddess of Reason during the French Revolution.
FrançaisAmiens Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France. Chapelle de Notre-Dame du Pilier Rouge ou de Notre-Dame de Puy; oeuvre de Nicolas Blasset, offerte en 1627 
par Antoine Pingre, maître de la Confrérie du Puy. En haut: la Vierge tirant un enfant d'un puits, entre David et Salomon. En bas, de gauche à droite: Sainte Geneviève, par Cressent 
(qui remplace l'Esther de N. Blasset, détruite à la Révolution), l'Assomption de la Vierge 
par François Francken le Jeune (1628), Judith tenant la tête d'Holopherne.
Photo: 8 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


In the book "Mr Standfast", John Buchan has his character, Richard Hannay, describe the Cathedral as being "the noblest Church that the hand of man ever built only for God."

The Cathedral was featured in the video game "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem". In the game, it first appeared as a Chapel, in the final year of Charlemagne's reign; it later appeared during the height of the Spanish Inquisition. Lastly, it was used as a hospital for injured soldiers during World War One.


File:Amiens cathedral 006.JPG

(Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), France.
Photo: 8 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


File:Amiens cathedral 017.JPG

EnglishAmiens Cathedral, France.
The Northern Rose Window.
Français: Rosace nord de la cathédrale 
Notre-Dame d'Amiens, France.
Photo: 8 January 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Mattana.
(Wikimedia Commons)


The Cathedral was featured in an episode of the PBS science show "NOVA", as an example of design flaws that now threaten the structural integrity of Gothic Cathedrals. In this case, improperly installed Flying Buttresses have resulted in the main supports bowing outwards over time. Measurements indicate that the structure's walls were built to a height of 144 units, echoing a statement in the Book of Revelation that the walls of heaven's mansions would be 144 cubits high.

The 1979 album "Winter Songs" by Art Bears, comprises fourteen short songs composed by Fred Frith, around texts by Chris Cutler, that were based on carvings on the Dado of the Cathedral's West Façade.

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