Although most architectural styles evolve over time in widely dispersed geographies, the Gothic can be said to have had a particular birthplace, and even a kind of parent. Abbot Suger, a friend and advisor to both Louis VI and Louis VII, believed that his abbey’s church of Saint-Denis in the outskirts of Paris was no longer adequate and needed a major overhaul in the 1130s. Creating a new style suffused with light, which he believed held important spiritual power, he wanted the spaces of the church to not only reflect the idea of the house of worship as a kind heaven, but also live up to the institution’s position as the burial site for French kings. This connection between kingship and the Gothic aesthetic continued throughout the history of this grandiose style -- the power of royals being reflected in the visual power of the buildings in interesting ways.
In this Context Conversation, Dr. Katherine Baker will examine three important churches where this connection of kingship and construction exists for the Gothic: Saint-Denis, Notre-Dame, and Sainte-Chapelle. All excellent examples of different periods in the evolution of the Gothic style, each building maintained important ties to the French monarchy, often using the form and decoration of the structures to loudly proclaim the power of the kings. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of how this exquisite building style was used by those in power, enriching in-person visits to these sites.
About Your Expert
Katherine Baker received her Ph.D. in art history at the University of Virginia in 2013. A research fellow at Institut national d'histoire de l'art, first through a Kress Institutional Fellowship and later as an invited researcher, she completed a dissertation on collaborative making in Paris around 1500 while in residence. With a particular interest in what the archival record can tell us about lost artistic production, her current project examines the estate inventory of Chicart Bailly, a Parisian ivory carver from the early 16th century
This conversation is suitable for all ages.
90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.
I have visited Notre Dame and Ste Chapelle and admire the beauty so this topic caught my interest. I think the theme of kingship being exalted through Gothic style does make sense. I really enjoyed seeing these buildings through a new angle.
Very cool to learn about the development of Gothic architecture and its interaction with royal power. Katherine provided lots of historical and cultural context and great images to get immersed in the story.
A lecture jam packed with interesting historical, architectural and sociological information, and lavishly illustrated. Loved it!
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The instructor is very informed on this subject having both studied it and been there in person. She leverages a vast amount of visuals (drawings, photos, etc.) to immerse you in the subject. Passionate and very lively. The only wish I had was I was hoping she would go beyond the hour and do less Q&A. Most go 80 minutes and allow for 10 minutes of Q&A. I wish she would do that. As you end too quickly.