News / Arts & Entertainment

Canterbury Stained Glass Opens Window on Medieval World

Canterbury Stained Glass Provides Window Into Medieval Worldi
X
November 18, 2013 10:57 PM
A display of stained glass art, now in Los Angeles, opens a window on life in medieval England. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, the art work from Canterbury Cathedral conveys the color and drama of an earlier era.
Mike O'Sullivan
— A display of stained glass art, now in Los Angeles, has opened a window on life in medieval England.  The art work from Canterbury Cathedral conveys the color and drama of an earlier era.

The color and pageantry of medieval England has been portrayed on the big screen, from jousting knights to historical tales like that of Thomas Becket, the 12th century Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered in his cathedral at the instigation of King Henry II.  In the 1964 Hollywood version of the story, Richard Burton played Becket and Peter O’Toole was King Henry.

Some of the color from that time and place has come to the Getty Museum, a few kilometers from Hollywood.  Six of the cathedral’s stained glass windows have been brought here while workers in Canterbury repair its surrounding stonework. 

It's a first, says the Dean of Canterbury, Robert Willis, who oversees the cathedral.

“It has never happened before, and so this is a unique experience for us, and also for the characters portrayed in the stained glass," he said.

Those characters are from the Bible, but the images were based on people in 12th century England.

The windows are being displayed along with a 12th century prayer book called the St. Alban’s Psalter, a collection of psalms from the Bible. It's on loan from the Cathedral Library in Hildesheim, Germany. 

The colors are as vibrant as those in the windows, says the Getty’s Kristen Collins.

“Around 1130, when this book was created, there was an explosion of illuminated book production and book painting," she said.

The impact was dramatic, says Leonie Seliger, who oversees the stained glass at Canterbury Cathedral.

“You had wall paintings, you had textiles, you had mosaic floors, you had these illuminated manuscripts, works in metal and stained glass.  So it would have been a riot of color and form and information and imagery," she said. "And for your average medieval person who lived in a little mud house, this would have been seriously overwhelming."

Dean Willis says the windows have been a source of inspiration.

“And the light shining through means that you get a completely different view every time that the sun changes or it’s cloudy, and there’s that kind of almost cinema effect, which must have been wonderful for folk in those days, and still is for us today," he said.

They're less flashy, perhaps, than Hollywood spectacles, but Willis says these 12th century art works are still inspiring.

The windows are on display in Los Angeles through February 2. They then move to The Cloisters, a branch of New York's Metropolitan Museum, before returning home to Canterbury.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."