Jeffrey Weaver and Madeline H. Caviness
Eighty-six near-life-size figures of the male ancestors of Christ once looked down on the choir and eastern extension of the medieval cathedral and priory church of Canterbury. Made of colored glass, with the details of the faces and costumes painted on the surface, the ancestors of Christ windows illuminated the liturgical areas during all but the earliest services in the depths of winter, glowing pale blue at dawn and yellow and red at noon. Dating from the twelfth century, the surviving windows from this series are among the oldest panels of stained glass in England, and they are significant examples of what was at the time a relatively new art—monumental stained glass. They are also considered to be among the most famous works of English medieval painting.
This luminously illustrated book discusses the original context, iconographic program, and stylistic development of these windows. It also explores how the windows were perceived by various medieval viewing constituencies, including royals, peasants, princes of the church, the local Jewish community, and monks resident at Canterbury.
The Ancestors of Christ Windows at Canterbury Cathedral is published on the occasion of the exhibition Canterbury and St. Albans: Treasures from Church and Cloister on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from September 20, 2013, to February 2, 2014.
Jeffrey Weaver is associate curator in the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Madeline H. Caviness is Mary Richardson Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art and Art History at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts.