travel: paris, Notre Dame – west facade

July 14, 2015
Edeuard Baldus, 1851-1870

Edeuard Baldus, 1851-1870

The facade of the Notre Dame cathedral is truly impressive. There is a LOT of stuff up there. I suppose if most of your population is illiterate that a facade can be read like a really interesting book. Everything has a meaning and was meant to teach the general populace a lesson. I enjoyed reading through this article  with it’s general information. I haven’t had time yet to read through a statue by statue explanation…. Did I mention that there is a LOT of stuff there.IMG_5757

It was a surprise to read that most of the statues were originally painted all sorts of bright colors. (The same is true of ancient greek statuary and temples.) We are so used to the quiet and worn monochrome of age that the very thought sounds really loud and gaudy to me. What it must have been like…..Paris_doors_22For some reason I am drawn to the grotesques. And all the little pedestals that look like little villages and castles. Who are all those saints looking on… standing on the backs of the sinners?IMG_5758

Were they really saints? Were they really sinners? I don’t have a very Catholic world-view I’m afraid. My current favorite saying is “a saint is a sinner who just keeps trying.”IMG_5760

When I look at the statues I mostly think of the dedication and skill of the craftsmen who worked on this structure for their whole lives. Was it a cushy, secure job? How well were they paid? What kind of politics did they deal with? Did they enjoy their labor? Did they get to see it done?


Can you even imagine the hours spent at the fire and the anvil, banging out each delicate curl and scroll?Pars_doors_09

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