After a fire tragedy that had the world watching as the historic Notre Dame cathedral went up in flames, an exhibition by the J. Paul Getty Museum is inviting people to explore the rich cultural legacy iconic French landmark. An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral in a single gallery installation will underscore the artistic impact of the masterpiece of medieval architecture, a repository for important relics and art.
“The recent fire at Notre-Dame reverberated around the world, with millions of people watching the event unfold live on their screens,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “We thought it appropriate at this moment to illuminate the artistic and cultural impact that Notre-Dame has played in European history, drawing on the rich holdings of the Museum and the Getty Research Institute. The exhibition presents paintings, photographs, engravings, and rare books that commemorate the enduring importance of the Cathedral, which has served as a symbol of Paris for more than eight centuries, through iconoclasm and wars.”
The cathedral does preserve the most exquisite examples of sculptural ensembles from the 1200s, and its three large rose windows count among the most magnificent stained glass from the medieval period. Inside, the high, pointed arches of the nave and transept, together with the choir and more than thirty chapels, shelter priceless sculptures, paintings, and ecclesiastic furniture. Scenes of the life of Christ, sculpted in stone in the early 1300s, are set around the choir screen while, within the choir, wooden stalls dating from the 1700s shine with delicately carved panels. In the transept and chapels, thirteen large canvases include some of the most ambitious French religious paintings of the period. At the start of the 1800s, Notre-Dame was in terrible disrepair after the edifice was looted and damaged in the French Revolution.
An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral – will be on view July 23 – October 20, 2019, in the East Pavilion of the Getty Museum.