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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”