Master Masons of Chartres
by John James
Describes the construction of Chartres cathedral
after the fire of 1194.
Its architects used
geometric figures to reflect
profoundly sacred ideas.
1985, 200 pages, 116 illustrations, cost $AUD.55, ISBN 0646008056
Review by John Lane:-
"This book, beautifully illustrated and written with an engaging
enthusiasm and directness, contributes a great deal to our knowledge.
He knows the building as well as the back of his hand. It is difficult
to convey the detailed reading cod controlled excitement of a book
in which the different levels of meaning tumble over one another,
layer by layer. John James gives us a new appreciation of the living,
growing and organic reality of medieval building."
Chapter 1: The Cathedral
Chapter 2: Messiness can be a Virtue
Chapter 3: The Contractors
Chapter 4: Dating by Poetry
Chapter 5: The Client
Chapter 6: Putting Significance into Form
Chapter 7: The Architect
Chapter 8: More about the Contractors
Chapter 9: The Geometers
Chapter 10: Master Bronze at work
"When you examine the cathedral closely, you discover to your
immense surprise that the design is not a well controlled and harmonious
entity, but a mess. We tend to think of a great work of art like
Chartres as having been thought through to the end before it was
begun. But Chartres is not like this, not at all. Our vision has
been conditioned by the homogenizing eye of the camera, but when
we look carefully we see that there are few things at one end of
the building that match those at the other. Windows and piers and
buttresses change, as do hidden elements such as wells and footings,
and of course all the details. The close we look the messier it
becomes: there is no other word for it."
"Christianity is a progressive religion in which man moves
from a state of original sin towards a greater understanding with
God. Every pilgrim accepts a hierarchy of ideas when he enters the
cathedral, such as the wet end being more mundane from which he
"progresses" towards the altar and the rising sun in the
east. Pilgrim's place is in the nave, and he prays towards the choir.
The root of our word 'nave' is the same as navy, with its overtones
of the ark, and of protection from the boundless fears of the deep.
Southern Hemisphere Distributor: West Grinstead
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