Notre Dame de Rouen. The façade of the Gothic Church in France. Photographer: Hippo1947. Licence: SHUTTERSTOCK.

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Rheims Cathedral, France. (Part Two).

Text from Wikipedia - the free encylopædia,
unless stated otherwise.

Please note: “Reims” (French) is often spelled “Rheims” in English.

Rheims Cathedral.
Artist: Domenico Quaglio the Younger (1787–1837).
Collection: Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig.
This File: 14 May 2005.
(Wikimedia Commons)

Unusually, the names of the Cathedral’s original architects are known. A Labyrinth built into the floor of The Nave at the time of construction (similar to examples at Chartres and Amiens) included the names of four Master Masons (Jean d'Orbais, Jean-Le-Loup, Gaucher de Reims, and Bernard de Soissons) and the number of years they worked there, though art historians still disagree over who was responsible for which parts of the building.

The Labyrinth was destroyed in 1779, but its details and inscriptions are known from 18th-Century drawings. The clear association here between a Labyrinth and Master Masons adds weight to the argument that such patterns were an allusion to the emerging status of the architect (through their association with the mythical artificer, Dædalus, who built the Labyrinth of King Minos).

English: Postcard depicting Rheims Cathedral burning
after German Army bombardment in September 1914.
Français: La Cathédrale_de Reims en_flammes
par les obus allemands, carte postale.
Date: 1914.
Source: Own work.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Cathedral also contains further evidence of the rising status of the architect in the tomb of Huges Liberger ( 1268, architect of the now-destroyed Rheims Church of Saint Nicaise). Not only is he given the honour of an engraved slab, he is shown holding a miniature model of his Church (an honour formerly reserved for noble donors) and wearing the academic garb befitting an intellectual.

The Towers, 81m tall (267 ft), were originally designed to rise 120m (394 ft). The South Tower holds just two great Bells; one of them, named “Charlotte” by Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine in 1570, weighs more than 10,000 kg (about 11 tons).

During The Hundred Years' War, the Cathedral was under siege by the English Army from 1359 to 1360.

English: Poster for the mobilisation of the 178th Canadian Battalion during The First World War, with Rheims Cathedral in the background.
Français: Affiche pour la mobilisation au sein du
178 bataillon canadien avec en fond la cathédrale Reims.
Date: 1915.
Source: Not known.
Author: Not known.
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1875, The French National Assembly voted £80,000 for repairs of the façade and balustrades. The façade is the finest portion of the building, and one of the great masterpieces of The Middle Ages.

German shells, during the opening engagements of The First World War on 20 September 1914, burned, damaged, and destroyed, important parts of the Cathedral. Scaffolding around The North Tower caught fire, spreading the blaze to all parts of the carpentry superstructure.

The Lead of the roofs melted and poured through the Stone Gargoyles, destroying, in turn, the Bishop's Palace. Restoration work began in 1919, under the direction of Henri Deneux, a native of Rheims and Chief Architect of The Monuments Historiques; the Cathedral was fully re-opened in 1938, thanks, in part, to financial support from The Rockefellers, but work has been steadily going on since.

The Web-Site of Rheims Cathedral can be found HERE


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