Select Page

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres




The Chartres Cathedral is probably the finest example of French Gothic architecture and said by some to be the most beautiful cathedral in France.

Frame not included.

Originally painted in Chartres, France in 2002, this work is currently also available as a canvas print remarque.

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres cathedral holds an atmosphere imbued with venerable history, ardent devotion, and awe-inspiring architectural splendor. Not only is the structure renowned for its glorious beauty down to the last detail and the radiance of its stained glass windows, but many seek The Veil of the Virgin in its Reliquary. It is believed to be the very same veil worn by the Virgin Mary during childbirth and linked to many medieval miracles. Catch a glimpse of the majestic cathedral in this surreal depiction seen at as you enter the doors and prepare to be enveloped in a timeless masterpiece.

General Architecture

The initial plan for this gothic cathedral was a Latin cross spanning three aisles, an ambulatory and a short transept. The east end has a rounded end and five chapels arranged in a semi-circular arrangement. Chartres Cathedral’s high nave is supported in place by soaring buttresses, which in turn are held by massive abutments and colonnettes. Over time, the niches were complemented by a series of sculptures, and some additions in the form of an extra row of buttresses and a third row was added come 14th century.

Chartres Cathedral holds the distinction of being one of the first structures where the buttresses are included in the overall planning of how a building looks from the outside. These buttresses were essential for the formation of the nave’s height and the massive size of the clerestory windows. Overall symmetry is broken by the mismatched west spires- the northern spire is an early sixteenth century Flamboyant Gothic steeple which stands at 113 meters tall, while the southern spire is an 1140s-style Romanesque pyramid standing 105 meters tall.

The two transepts have the famous west front as well as three notable sculptures, flanking towers and large rose windows. This design borrows heavily from the rose-windowed transept model from the Laon Cathedral, with the exception of its unique three-portal layout. Chartres Cathedral has nine portals, including three that were salvaged from the earlier West part of the cathedral.

The Royal Portal

Porte Royale, or the West Portal was completed by 1150, with the reliefs and sculptures pertaining to the ones found at St. Denis, which was mostly ravaged in the Reformation. The Royal Portal showcases an elegantly stretched statues of majestic kings, stately queens and famous historical figures derived from the Old Testament; their faces show full expressions, looking down on viewers with benevolence and condescension. The artistic transition from Roman-esque to Gothic is plain, as the elongation of the statues are from Romanesque times but the greatly visible expressions are from Gothic times.

The Royal Portal also hosts the Last Judgment. Here, Christ is surrounded by the Four Evangelists, basking in an almond-shaped halo called a mandoria, holding the Book of Life on his left and a gesture of blessing with the right hand. The figure is native only to the cathedral and shows Christ’s image in both human and divine nature.

The South Portal

Carved between 1224 and 1250, and according to the New Testament times, the South Portal is mainly all about the Last Judgment. The central theme features “the handsome God”, or a Beau-Dieu, as Christ is portrayed as a mild and gentle human. On the right bay are sculptures of saints who weren’t martyred, and on the left bay depicts an array of martyred saints. You can see St. Theodore as a young hero and St. George as an older man artistically represented on the left bay.

The North Portal

The North Portal features the Old Testament, with significant events and depictions of the preparation of the Virgin Mary for the coming Christ. The northern portal receives sunlight at night because it faces the Southwest direction instead of the traditional Western point. You can see a figure of St. Anne holding Mary between the central portal doors. The faded depictions of St. Joachim tending the flock are still visible here. The Chartres received a relic in the form of St. Anne’s head from Constantinople, from which a central statue was made. Some of the most notable sculptures here are a fat King Solomon, the Holy Modesta, a female figure showing a happy and seductive smile; and a fascinating scene where Adam is formed from God’s head, and with God kneading Adam’s head like a sculptor shaping a piece of modeling clay.

The Chartres Labyrinth

The cathedral’s floor still shows some signs of the ancient floor labyrinth crafted in 1205, mainly used for pilgrims in their meditation and by the residing monks when they contemplate. The chapel’s labyrinth only has one true path and it is 964 feet in length. John James claimed that there was once a metal plate in the labyrinth’s center which had drawings of the Minotaur, Ariadne and Theseus, central figures of the classical myth of Minos’ Labyrinth. The overall circumference is 131 feet wide, intriguingly the same size as the West Rose window.

The Stained Glass Windows

Exquisite stained glass windows are scattered all throughout the cathedral, providing some very colorful splashes on the floor while looking like sparkling gems from above. These windows were made early in the 13th century and stood the test of time, even from the religious wars that erupted during the 16th century. In fact, Chartres has one of the most complete medieval stained glass collections from all over the world, with the numbers going between 150 to 170 depending on the method of counting.

The South Rose and its five lancets date back from 1230’s. The stained window shows the Glorification of Christ; with Christ’s blessings surrounded by the angels and Four Evangelists, then the Apocalypse’s elders, then the cathedral’s arms of donors. The lancets are arranged as noted: Luke over Jeremiah, Matthew over Isaiah, the Virgin and Child, John over Ezekiel, and Mark over Daniel. Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere is a special mention in this area, created in 1150 and is now a part of the south ambulatory window.

The North Rose and its five lancets were given as a present from Queen Blanche in 1230. This section shows the Glorification of the Virgin; with the Virgin and Child encompassed by angels and doves, then the Old Testament prophets and kings. The lancets are arranged as noted: Melchizadek with King Saul, King David with King Jeroboam, St. Anne with Mary and the Royal House of France arms, King Solomon with King Nebuchadezzar, and Aaron and the Pharaoh.

The West Rose date back from 13th century, with its lancets dating from 1150. The section represents the Last Judgment; with Christ encompassed by angels and the Four Evangelists; angels blowing their trumpets, judgment, resurrection, representations of heaven and hell. The lancets are arranged as noted: the Resurrection and Passion, Incarnation, and the last being the Jesse Window.