Rose windows

I know even less about stained glass than I do about solar power.

But I don’t find James’s examples of great stained-glass art especially compelling. To my eye, the pure mandalas that are the great rose windows have an impact that far exceeds any representational image. I can’t find a good photo of the window in the cathedral in Prague, which kept me rapt for about two hours one sunny day twenty years ago. But here’s Notre Dame:

And no, no photograph can do justice to the full impact of a rose window with the sun behind it in a dark church. Seriously, this stuff ought to be a controlled substance.


  1. Keith Humphreys says

    I am sick of you looking at life through rose-colored glass.

    Sorry, couldn’t pass that up : )

  2. Ben M says

    For a modernist window with Notre-Dame-like impact, I can recommend the great Cologne Cathedral window by Gerhard Richter.

  3. James Wimberley says

    The Notre Dame rose window does in fact tell stories too: it has saints, angels, scenes from the New Testament … My vote goes to Chartres simply because it has a virtually complete set, including another two fine (and equally narrative) rose windows. The Gothic rose windows are, I agree, incomparable masterpieces, combining daring engineering – the stone tracery is very thin in relation to the area and weight of lead and glass – with a mastery of design and colour.

    Please tell me what the rabbis have against stained glass. Was it simply that the persecuting Christians got there first? Or that (on the Duby theory) Cathar-style dualism was not a temptation to Jews?

  4. OKDem says

    I remember a passage in C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra trilogy where a young, modern woman is fuming that her life should not be constrained to a stained glass existence only to be stopped short by the mental image of sunlight through a stained glass window. Anyone know which book off hand?

  5. RichardC says

    Nice, but they lost market share when they couldn’t figure out how
    to implement a more modern look and feel in iCathedral 7.0