Thursday, 16 July 2015

Up close with the Ancestors of Christ

The stunning Ancestors of Christ exhibition is on until 23rd August at Canterbury Cathedral. Here is a collection of medieval images from the 22 panels on show and more generally from the Cathedral. Originally there were 86 ancestors, combining 77 from Luke's gospel and 8 from Matthew's. 43 of the original ancestors survive in total. Dating stained glass is not easy as carbon dating or material analysis is not a precise tool but combined with stylistic and historical evidence it is estimated that the panels range from circa 1130 to circa 1200. The panels are highly skilled with complex design work and show a beautiful fluidity and range of painting style. The expressions are animated and intense - perhaps the closest we will get to the medieval mind?

The lost hand in this panel reflects the removal of the panels from their original clerestory location and relocation into the late 14th century West Window and the Great South Window. The move resulted in the order of the ancestors being confused, fathers and sons split up and the detailed ornamental borders being removed and hands and feet amputated in order to fit the new surround. 

The panels were painted by different artists, their names lost but thought to be French. Some panels are distinctive in their style; Enoch, Methuselah, Adam, Lamech and Noah are thought to be painted by the 'Methuselah Master' who had a sculptural, animated style with a naturalistic feel.










Matusale one of the earliest figures made after the fire of 1174.

Nathan - parts of this panel could predate 1174.


Detail from the Adam Delving panel circa 1176 in the Clerestory window. 

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