Thursday, February 16, 2006

mesdames messieurs, la sainte-chapelle

--Where are we going now?
--A la Sainte-Chapelle, répondit Fédor Balanovitch. Un joyau de l'art gothique. Allons grouillons! Schnell! Schnell!
Les caméras crépitent.
-- Tu me fais mal, glapissait Zazie folle de rage.
Mais elle fut elle aussi emportée vers la Sainte-Chapelle par le véhicule aux lourds pneumatiques.

La Sainte-Chapelle is so famous that I don't have much to add to what you might know of it, except to point out that it was built in only six years (1242-1248) which I think could inspire certain architects of the twenty-first century (especially when you see the diagrams I saw of its being built, which seemed to involve only about 10 workers, some very beautiful but rickety-looking wooden cranes, a king in robes monopolizing the attention of his architect, and a surprising number of medieval people in their cups or reading a book while sitting on scaffolding somewhere off on the sidelines).

It's also worth noting that it was the "oeuvre personelle" of Saint Louis, the king who also built the Sorbonne, and it used to contain the Crown of Thorns of Christ as well as all sorts of saintly knucklebones taken from Byzantium, until the French Revolution when these things got scattered a bit.

It's astonishing for the enormous size of its gorgeous detailed stained glass windows, which incredibly manage to support the weight of the very tall vaulted ceilings of the Chapelle.

I'm a sucker for this little castles punctuating the columns...

and I like the asymmetry of this off-centered window-within-a-window. It doesn't give up its secret.

a small tease... me to the right.
and my mysterious ami.

Gothic is reliably exalting, even if it's wrapped up inside the sober walls of the Palais de Justice and the Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette and many others waited before having their heads chopped off, and where I too tried to get my residence permit...and probably wanted to lose my head by the time that was over...



Blogger My Alter Ego said...

Thanks for reminding me of la Sainte-Chapelle. I visited it once and took countless pictures, but I hadn't thought of it in years. Truly an amazing place.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous dbv said...

i'd forgotten about that in zazie. will go dig that up!

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks cool

7:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:44 AM  

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