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Research presentation outline
Title of work: Tree of Jesse
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Name of artist(s): Unknown German (original in Saint Denis by Abbế Suger)
Date created: circa 1150
Current Location of work: Chartres Cathedral, France
I. Techniques and media: Stained Glass
II. Size or dimensions of the work: 8.4 by 2.58 meters
III. Style or Movements associated with this work:
Gothic architecture. Stained glass maybe regarded as part of the Holy Scriptures; the art not just installed to introduce color and religious iconography into church interiors but also enlightens those who are within the structure as it expel the wind and the rain, that is, all the things hurtful but transmit the light of the True Sun, that is, God, into the hearts of the faithful. (Gardner, Kleiner, & Mamiya 372) This concept, using colored glass to replace walls, is unique to the Gothic period.
IV. Noteworthy Information about this work:
The Tree of Jesse may have evolved from German miniature painting a century or more prior to the renovation of St. Denis. St. Denis particularly was pointed out as the basis for the making of this art in Chartres Cathedral; the glass window presented in various depictions such as a grapevine, an oak-like broad leaf, or a stylized blooming tree. (Bratton 123) It had been a popular subject both in stained glass and windows and opus anglicanum. (Scheller and Hoyle 208)
V. Subject Matter and Message of this work
This particular art depicts a passage from the Holy Bible, from Isaiah 11:1-2, 10, “There shall come forth a foot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord… In the day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples.”
Campbell and Abadie, in their book, cite Emile Mầle’s further discussion of the tree of Jesse, “The artists of the Middle Ages… Combining the verses of Isaiah with the genealogy of Jesus Christ, as given in the gospel according to St. Matthew… depicted a great tree rising from the belly of Jesse asleep, along the stem which they showed the kings of Judah in stages; above the kings, the Virgin, and above her, Jesus Christ to whom they gave an aureole of seven doves, to remind us that in him in repose the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost… Moreover, to complete their composition the artists placed beside Christ’s ancestors according to the flesh those according to the spirit, and so in the stained glass of Saint Denis, Chartres, and Sainte-Chapelle, one sees beside the line of the kings of Judah that of the prophets, fingers lifted, who announced the Savior to come.” (247)
VI. Works Cited
Bratton, Susan Power. Environmental Issues in Christian Art. New York:State University of New York Press, 2007.
Campbell, Joseph, and M. J. Abadie. The Mythic Image. New Jersey:Princeton UP, 1974.
Kleiner, Fred S. and Christin J. Mamiya. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. California:Wadsworth Publishing, 2005
Scheller, Robert W. and Michael Hoyle. Exemplum. Amsterdam:Amsterdam UP, 2000