|In 1194 a fire destroyed Chartres' earlier Cathedral. Of the 12th century windows that survived, only this figure of Mary and the large windows at the west end were the only ones deemed worth reusing by the 13th century master. This image of Mary has for centuries been an object of special veneration and since the 15th century has been known as Our Lady of the Beautiful Window. In 1906, the glazier Gaudin restored Mary's head. While before Mary's gaze was fixed straight ahead, her head is now inclined very slightly towards the viewer's left.|
is seated on a throne, her feet resting on a footstool, covered with a
rug. She is dressed in a garment of a bright, luminous blue.
Her head, surrounded by a blue nimbus bordered with pearls, is
surmounted by a rich crown. A white veil falls in folds on either
side of her head. Her hands rest on the shoulders of her Son, who is
seated on her knees. A cruciform nimbus is around his head.
His right hand is raised in blessing. In his left hand he holds an
open book where we read the words:
Omnis vallis implebitur ("Every valley shall be filled.") It is a prophecy of the Incarnation found in Isaiah's 40:4 and recalled by John the Baptist in Luke 3:5.
figures of Mary and Jesus emerge against a background of magnificent
red. The images are drawn with the greatest care. The
garments with their symmetrical folds, the ornaments along their
borders, the architecture of the throne, all is treated with the minute
attention to detail, without detracting from the composition of the
It is difficult to find a theme that unifies the entire window. The Temptation of Christ in the wilderness and the Miracle at Cana are two of the earliest incidents in the public life of Christ. There is no agreement among scholars why the glazier decided to include them here.
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