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    • #7518
      jlchamberlain
      Keymaster

      Abbot Suger established the tradition of opening up church walls with stained glass windows at the Abbey Church of Saint Denis. This led to increasingly lofty, light-filled churches throughout the rest of the Gothic period. Discuss the significance of this trend and the effect that it was meant to have on those attending services.

    • #7711
      Laura Barber
      Participant

      Abbot Suger truly revolutionized the design of churches when he implemented stained glass in the Abbey Church of St. Denis. This was a burial place for the royal family, and thus Suger felt that it should be designed accordingly in a manner that would best honor them. The stained glass allows light to flow into the church, creating a heavenly feeling that transports the visitors. In some of Suger’s reading on philosophy, he found writings about the connection between light and divinity. It was this that sparked his interest in bringing this element into the church. This style was quite different from the Romanesque period, in which windows were small and did not let in much light. The general structure of churches also had to change in order to accommodate this new wall design. Pointed arches became popular because they were able to support the structure without relying on thick walls. This alteration enabled stained glass to gain popularity and was seen in many churches throughout the period, such as in Chartres Cathedral and Sainte-Chapelle Cathedral of Paris.

      • #7750
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To Laura Barber
        You had great examples explaining the inspiration that influenced Abbot Suger to recreate Medieval architecture we know as Gothic. Besides the religious aspect of his inspiration, what factors of his environment do you think inspired him? Great job this semester!

      • #7956
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        Laura,
        I like how you talked about Abbot Suger’s research on philosophy and his findings on the connection between light and divinity. The comparison is also drawn many times in the Bible as well. I also believe stained glass does give one a heavenly feeling. Splendor and majesty would be few and far between in the lives of the poor, but the church was a place where the rich and poor alike could come and marvel. I think this was no mere accident. I think the intention was to already instill awe in the onlookers so that when the message of God was preached one would already feel close to heaven.

    • #7749
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      ‘The Abbey Church of Saint Denis’ greatly contrasts from the architecture of the Romanesque period. The columns of the previous era gave a grounded feeling due to the width and strength of designs. The Gothic period architecture and artwork lifts the eyes by thinning and elongating columns and removes walls to open up the space. With the incorporation of the pointed arch, it gave structural integrity allowing more space for windows. The light was associated with the divine, giving the sense of feeling closer to it while in attendance of church. The intent of having a heavenly surroundings influences the practitioners to have a positive outlook. It’s recognizable how this uplifting environment came to develop out of the chaos that occurred in the Medieval era.

      • #7825
        Gabe
        Participant

        Miranda, it’s interesting that you use the term ‘grounded’ to refer to the heavier style of the Romanesque period architecture. It made me think about how the pilgrimages of that period brought people closer to the earth that they had to travel across, as well mixed different social classes together. The Gothic style however developed around Paris and its monarchy and aristocracy, and so it is much removed from the ‘common folk’. It’s thematically appropriate for this ‘high-court’ culture that Gothic churches and cathedrals have such an elevated, lofty, and impressive feeling. Almost too much so! They appear so light, grandiose, and (as we’ve seen from the fire at Notre Dame) fragile.

    • #7765
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      Laura-
      Nice post, I think it’s very relevant to tie the relationship of light and divinity to Suger’s inspiration. I’m thankful this stained glass trend took off.

    • #7766
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      The intention of using stained glass, rather than the tiny window of times before, was, in my eyes, a means of changing medium for decoration purposes. Though extremely decorative they also functioned as a way to access natural light. The structure of the churches inevitably had to change to accommodate larger windows, and paintings became more scarce, as they had a new art form to revel in. There is an inevitable tie to light being a representation of divinity, but I also believe it involves quite a bit of artist exploration and play. The attendees of churches adorned with stained glass likely had a more heavenly uplifting experience.

      • #7767
        Laura Barber
        Participant

        Re: Lacey
        It is interesting how many characteristics of the Gothic period came simply in order to accommodate for the stained glass. Flying buttresses, for example, became popular during the period mainly because they allowed the walls to be able to support the stained glass. It did created a very beautiful and unique design, though! It makes me wonder how the period might have evolved if stained glass had not become so popular.

      • #7790
        Bob Hook
        Participant

        I think we also need to remember that the stained windows were a pleasant and beautic=ful source of light. With only candles, torches and fireplaces older churches had to be fairly dark and dismal setting. What a wonderful way to bring beauty inside for the worshippers.

      • #7889
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Lacey – I agree that there probably was a lot of artistic play involved with the development of stained glass windows. As there was a need for allowing more light in to the space, this did indeed make less wall space for paintings. This is a very interesting point. What I find interesting is that we now have moved away from enclosed, “secret” and holy places, to the holy place being open and light. Quite the contrast.

      • #7907
        Lucas Warthen
        Participant

        Hey Lacey,

        I think you’re right that the attendees of church had an uplifting experience and that is definitely due to light. At the time I think light was treated similar to how the body and blood of Christ are during the communion – that they actually believed the light was the presence of God (we know that symbolically the wine and bread are the body and blood, but some believe that they were truly transformed during communion). The presence of light is in a similar vein. The stained glass being beautiful is definitely an upside and after the incorporation of it do we start to see the implementation of holy symbols and people into it.

      • #7957
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        Lacey,
        I hadn’t thought that stained glass was just another art form developed during this time period! But of course, that is certainly true. I agree that, practically speaking, larger windows allowed more light, but also that the stained effect must have definitely given those within a heavenly and uplifted feeling.

      • #7966
        Dean Riley
        Participant

        Lacey, I agree when you boil down to the heart of the matter the main reason for having stained glass windows was function. By allowing more natural light in, they had to rely less on candles and oil to light the church.

    • #7824
      Gabe
      Participant

      The introduction of windows and light was the defining feature of Gothic churches and cathedrals that distinguishes them from their Romanesque counterparts. The goal to fill churches with light drove the architecture of the time to find techniques to relieve the heaviness of Romanesque thick stone walls and allow for more windows. Features like groin vaults and flying buttresses were used to accomplish this. The actual works of stained glass were however more than just a light source, they were actually a visual metaphor for how the ‘light’, that is the divinity and grace of God, entered the world through Christ, Mary, and the Saints and Prophets of scripture. Images of these figures were placed into the the patterns of color in Stained glass designs so that within the church, the light would literally enter the space through Christ, who was often at the center of a ‘rose’ stained glass piece.

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by Gabe.
      • #7897
        ckocsis
        Participant

        Gabe-
        I didn’t know that the windows were a metaphor for how God enters the earth through Christ, Mary, and the Saints and Prophets. That makes so much senses and explains why they were placed on the windows. Great post! Thank you. I thought the light just represented divinity but didn’t make the connection that it was coming through Christ and Mary.

    • #7848
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      The significance of the stained glass windows is incredibly important considering they were the driving factor to change the design of the Romanesque church to the gothic church era. The first stained glass windows in the church were created by a man who believed might to be a physical manifestation of God. Upon entering the church the visitors would be symbolically transported to Heaven. As the churches grew higher and higher, there was more space for the addition of stained glass windows. as a result the architecture had to adapt to accommodate the windows. Some of the changes include the addition of the flying buttresses to add support, and the vaults or arches became more pointed in shape.

    • #7849
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Gabe, I like the explanation you gave about how the light entering the windows refers to a metaphor of christ entering the world through god. It is super interesting how much thought was put into these stained glass windows. I wonder how the first stained glass came to be.

    • #7866
      Bob Hook
      Participant

      The Gothic style and especially the High Gothic style opened up the walls of the churches with pointed arches continuing to the Groin Vault and ribs of the ceiling. The addition of flying buttresses did away with the need for interior columns to support the load of the roof. The roof load could be transferred to the outer walls creating a more open area with higher interior ceilings. This architectural advancement allowed for the exterior to appear less like a fortification and more transparent. Walls could be opened, and the spires could take on a structure that seems to be pierced with light traveling through it. The first glass used was called grisaille and was produced in varying shades of gray. There is an excellent example of grisaille in the original glass of the Salisbury Cathedral. Glass from the Victorian era was added later, and it is then that you begin to see not only the brilliant outlines and bright colors but the introduction of religious themes. It is interesting to note that as architectural and artisan techniques were developed they were quickly adopted by the church to convey their message to the people.

      • #7927
        Raven Shaw
        Participant

        Bob, excellent point that the trend in large colorful windows was only possible because of leaps in architectural understanding. I think it’s a chicken or the egg thing – they needed the architecture to work for the windows to work, but they wanted to make the windows work so they had to figure out the architecture – if that makes any sense.

    • #7878
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      The dramatic shift towards widows and church buildings brought a tremendous amount of light into the buildings. Before this, churches would have been very dark and somewhat dreary on the inside. Previously, the columns in churches would have brought the eyes down, where as the architecture in the Gothic period caused the people to look upwards. The stained glass brought a whole new dimension of awe into the churches. Abbot Suger wanted the church attendees to feel that they were entering heaven when they walked into the church. The beautifully designed windows and elegantly carved upwards stretching archways made that possible. This is a theme that defined the Gothic period and brought a tremendous shift in religious architecture.

    • #7879
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      RE: Kaitlyn

      Great point. They did believe that they would be transported into the real heaven so attempting to make the churches as high as possible makes total sense. The addition of flying buttresses was certainly an innovative way for the architects to get the style they wanted while still creating structurally sound buildings.

    • #7880
      Maggie May
      Participant

      The stained glass windows brought about by Abbot Suger through the Cathedral of St. Denis changed everything about church structure of the time. The windows, which allowed in more light than their predecessors, were artworks in and of themselves, and quickly became popular. The architecture of churches soon evolved to better accommodate the windows, creating loftier churches with higher ceilings and pointed arches. This may have drawn the eye upward and given a more optimistic, colorful, and lightfilled view than churches past, as light was often associated with that of a heavenly nature during this time period.

      • #7890
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Maggie –

        That is an interesting point, that the architecture was meant to inspire people to view upwards. I find it so interesting that heaven was believed to be above, and hell below. And this architecture probably does have something to do with reinforcing this notion. What I find interesting is the fact that we have moved from the holiest of places being behind a thick curtain and only a few people were allowed there, to the holy place being open and light and inviting to everyone. This just makes the closeness of God more available to everyone.

    • #7885
      Tamara Toy
      Participant

      The stained glass windows changed a lot about churches at this time. Not only did it alleviate the need for so many candles and lamps, but it also created a sense of awe for those entering the church. As well, an abundance of light was akin to a divine presence, so letting in the light also could mean letting in the Divine. Also, as architecture had evolved to be able to build these massive buildings, the heavy use of stained glass helped to highlight the size of these churches, to further the sense of awe in ‘God’s work.’ (As it is a common belief that all great things are God’s work.) The size of these buildings may have also had the effect of making attendees feel small in the grand scheme of things, in comparison to such massive and untouchable things as the Church and God.

    • #7888
      Miranda Johansson
      Participant

      The trend of large windows with stained glass and the tall, vaulted ceilings created a sense of openness. This openness was majestic to the visitors of the church, instilling admiration. The amount of light that the large windows allowed to be let in to the church also created an atmosphere filled with serenity. The light coming in through the stained glass was often considered mystical or divine (Art History Journal).

      This serene amazement and inspiring light and spacious cathedral would inspire a sense of divine magic into the space and the visitors would feel as if they have entered a holy place. There was quite the significance of what is holy, and these cathedrals being of holy essence was a goal of this architecture.

      References

      “The Role of Light in Gothic Architecture.” <i>Art History Journal</i>, 6 May 2010,

    • #7896
      ckocsis
      Participant

      The inclusion of large stained glass windows and high vaulted ceilings is incredibly significant because these features are the defining aspects of gothic architecture. The large windows allowed much more light into the churches, which before these windows, were most likely pretty dark closed in spaces. Most people associate light with divinity and God, so I think the addition of all the natural light may have helped people feel closer to God, and entering the churches with intricate stained windows with light streaming in is incredibly awe inspiring.

    • #7899
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      The Gothic period shows us just how fast change can happen in the world. Abbot Suger created the point arch allowing these beautiful structure to expand the whole church and bring in light. The Romanesque churches had very thick and large columns to hold up these heavy walls, while gothic churches were thin columns created in to arches bringing a more elegant look. The windows were very small throughout the Romanesque period. The window became large in the Gothic period bringing in light from every angle of the church. These glass windows had beautiful designs on them and had various colors that luminated as the sun hit the windows. Suger read about divinity and light and how they related in various ways. Suger used these windows to transport all individuals that step into that church to a more heavenly place. He believed adding more light throughout the church would give these individuals a close feeling to Heaven and God himself.

      • #7931
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Sjsaccomen, Romanesque churches seemed to have a much heavier feeling altogether with their big and blocky forms. The slim and arched structures of the Gothic churches are definitely a lot more attractive in comparison. Kind of interesting comparing the two of these and seeing a similar pattern in our beauty standards for people!

    • #7900
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      The mass presentation of light in churches was meant as a symbolic presence of God. The more light in the church, the of God that was there and the more presence the church might feel. Although the trend has somewhat died out today (we don’t see entire walls of stained glass coupled with flying buttresses on the outside), stained glass is still present in churches throughout the world, allowing streams of light to come in. The light in today’s churches is still symbolic though it is not outright stated by the church (I think ‘light’ is always associated with a higher power or God) and the stained glass windows depict those images from the bible that are important, and also display holy figures (such as saints and the Virgin Mary). The light in the past was surely meant to impact the chamber and still does to some extent today.

    • #7902
      csayreswoody
      Participant

      These stained glass windows in churches was to enhance the lighting and beauty of the insides of churches. It was also to symbolism and tell the narrative stories of Christ to its viewers. In Gothic churches it was to replace the thick dark walls of Romanesque cathedrals to thin towering walls of colors. I also read that some of the colors in stained glass windows having a meaning behind them. Like the color red represents the blood of Christ, blue represents the sky, green is for the color of grass and nature, violet symbolizes love, truth, and passion, white represents purity, black is tied to death and regeneration, yellow symbolizes power, divinity, and glory, purple symbolizes suffering and endurance, gray is a symbol of humility and mourning, brown is the symbol of spiritual of death and renunciation of worldly things and will the Rainbow is to symbolizes union and God’s covenant with humanity. It amazes me how they use all these colors to tell a story and draw the attention of people from all walks of life rather they are a believer or not, theses stained glass windows where put in place to draw the attention and tell a story as the sun light shines in making the beauty enhance.

      • #7930
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Csayreswoody, reading what the colors represented is a really interesting piece of information. I didn’t realize that they had meanings behind them but it definitely explains why they had so much yellow around Christ and in the image ‘The Archangel Michael Vanquishing the Devil.’ It definitely brings a new perspective to some of the stained glass images. Thank you for including this!

    • #7905
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      Gabe, you had a great post and lots of detail that explained the Gothic period. I liked your explanation about the light literally entering through Christ I didn’t know about that.

    • #7909
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      With Abbot Sugar’s innovation, it inspired many churches architecture that help define gothic art as we know it. When walking into a church with stained glass windows, one can’t help but feel that they are in a significant holy place with the gentle light and illuminated glass art. This helped give an aura of divinity but was also utilitarian; it helped the structure stabilize so there was less of a need to use heavy stones. I think the most important part of the stained glass was letting in light. If we look at romanesque and byzantine churches, there is not much light and it’s difficult to see the mosaics. Using stained glass was, in a way, a mosaic with the addition of lighting. Undoubtedly, this is a big defining factor for gothic style and architecture.

      • #7917
        Aalieyah Creach
        Participant

        Re: Jessi Willeto

        I agree with what you are saying. Using these stained glass windows not only helps as a main resource of easily controlled lighting but acts as a form of art for the people who attended these churches and plays a role in the architecture of the Gothic period. Also good comparisons between the Romanesque and Byzantine churches when it comes to the installation of stained glass windows.

    • #7910
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: csayreswoody
      I think it’s really cool that when we think of stained glass, we immediately think of churches. They go hand in hand with each other because it was such a great innovation. Like you said, it enhanced the lighting and used certain colors– lots of symbolism in this innovation.

    • #7911
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Lucas Warthen
      I can see how the presence of God can be felt with the use of stained glass in churches. No matter where you are, it gives a feeling of reverence, divinity, and awe when you see beautiful and large stained glass. I certainly associate it with higher powers, which was the desired effect like you said.

    • #7916
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      Abbot Sugar established the tradition of opening up church walls with stained glass windows during the Gothic period because these windows let in a nice and bright light. The significance of this light was to make people think that the light that was shining through the windows were holy thus effecting the peoples spirituality levels, and making them think this light had a special effect on them personally.

    • #7926
      Raven Shaw
      Participant

      The church alone was meant to represent heaven on earth, but with the windows it seemed moreso. Radiant light was meant to be a physical manifestation of God, so the stained glass windows were meant to strike the attendees with the sense that they were transported to heaven within the church. Abbot Suger wanted people to move from thinking about the light to thinking about God.

      Allowing the outside in may have been in line with all of the natural motifs the carvers used to show the importance of understanding nature as part of the universe God created for us.

      The windows may have also been a hip new way to teach the masses the bible. It may have been like any of our newer tech advancements that schools use to get kids interested in learning. The light shining through the rose windows seems a lot like the light shining through an electronic device.

    • #7929
      tmbergan
      Participant

      The large stained glass windows in the Gothic churches such as the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis were used to help make the church attendees feel lighter and closer to heaven. As the light came down through the images, it would help them feel like they were entering heaven on earth. The churches would feel huge for anyone that enters with how high their arched ceilings were to accommodate the glass windows which could have also helped make the churchgoers feel like they were in the presence of God with how massive, open, and bright everything was. Abbot Suger’s gorgeous contribution to the Gothic churches was meant to help people feel a lot more connected to their spiritual beliefs.

    • #7934
      Valene
      Participant

      Light was thought to bring one closer to God and to be a spiritual experience. Lighting up the churches would then make people have that closer God/divine experience and it also would make people look up to the sky where God was believed to be looking down on his followers. This trend in architecture made the construction of many new churches light and airy and turns from the dark and closed off portrayal of past architecture. Abbot Suger helped a whole new movement of religious followers to feel connected to a God and teachings through a buildings construction.

    • #7952
      rdnelson4
      Participant

      Personally, I’ve always found stained glass extraordinarily beautiful. All the colors tend to remind me of rainbows, which actually have great religious meaning in the Christian faith. Many Gothic churches were built between the 12th and 15th centuries, giving the time period the name Age of Cathedrals. As architecture became more structurally sound, larger windows became possible. Stained glass took advantage of the larger amount of light. I think the light streaming in from all sides probably had a very ethereal and divine effect on attendees, transporting them to a more heavenly-minded state. Not only beautiful, stained glass would also, more practically, give more reading light to cathedrals built centuries before electricity.

    • #7960
      Jess
      Participant

      Stained glass windows in church buildings are a very common sight to see all over Europe. This is because it became so popular during the Gothic period. I believe this is the case because it allowed the church to have large pieces of art depicting stories from the bible. But also allowed for large amounts of natural light to come into the building. This was a brilliant technique because of how beautiful and ornate the large glass works of art were. It drew your eye up to it and demanded your attention with its beauty and told you its story. The Rose Window in Chartres Cathedral is a perfect example of how these beautiful pieces of work demand your attention to tell you their story.

      • #7964
        csayreswoody
        Participant

        Jess,
        I must agree that these windows do draw attention to them and catches the eye and attention of people all the time. It amazes me how they tell a story to the views as well.

    • #7962
      Valene
      Participant

      Re: Jess:
      The beauty of stain glass windows was an exquisite technique that really did bring attention to the story being told. I think all art has a way of telling a story and awing the audience with the intricate details and techniques used. The clever idea of telling a story that can be understood by both literate and illiterate and also having the dual function of bringing light into a dark space all made for a great way to share art with this audience.

    • #7965
      Dean Riley
      Participant

      The introduction of stained glass windows in gothic churches was brought on by a few different conditions. One of them was the change in architecture allowed larger windows which lends itself to the stained glass windows. Another is the stained glass windows allowed natural light to enter into the churches where the church did not have to rely so heavily on candles and oil. The third is that it allowed the windows to function as pieces of art and tell biblical stories as well as being functional.

    • #7970
      Guy Gaswint
      Participant

      The use of stained glass in churches allowed for more light to enter the church, but not just light but colored light. Stained glass allowed for what some call a divine light. The ROSE WINDOW, CHARTRES CATHEDRAL, c. 1230-1235. Stained and painted glass, has 5 pains of glass below a large circular window. I feel that these five panes carry just as large of a message as the illuminated manuscripts or an add on to churches being considered bibles for the illiterate. The pains depict The Virgin Mary carrying Christ and the old testament profits are carrying evangelists on the other four panes. The stained glass told stories, illuminated the church and gave off what was considered a divine light; in these ways the church effectively used stained glass to promote values and beliefs upon the masses.

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