Reading the Reverse Façade of Reims Cathedral : Royalty and Ritual in Thirteenth-Century France book cover
1st Edition

Reading the Reverse Façade of Reims Cathedral
Royalty and Ritual in Thirteenth-Century France

ISBN 9781138108905
Published September 12, 2017 by Routledge
298 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $58.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Though long recognized as one of the most beautiful works from the second half of the thirteenth century, the magnificent sculptural program of the reverse façade at Reims Cathedral has received little in the way of scholarly attention. Interpreting the iconography in the light of Latin texts associated with the building, its history and its ceremonial use, Donna Sadler assesses the significance of the reverse façade in light of other thirteenth-century visual programs associated with the court of Louis IX. The book's chapters deal with the history of the cathedral and its architectural antecedents; the iconographic message of the visual program, the meaning of the reverse façade and how it intersects with the overall iconography; the function of the verso and how it is enhanced by the marriage of form and content; and a consideration of contemporary works linked to the court of Saint Louis, concluding with a brief look at the new roles sculpture assumes as it migrates inside cathedrals. Ultimately this book reveals how the imagery on the reverse façade not only conforms to a system of memory and mode of medieval narratology, but also articulates a dominant ideological position regarding the interdependence of ecclesiastical and royal powers.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Reading Reims cathedral through the palimpsest of its past; The reverse façade as complement to iconographic program; Mirror of princes in stone; Marriage of form and content; The royal context of Reims cathedral's reverse façade program; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

View More



Donna L. Sadler is Professor of Art History at Agnes Scott College, USA.


A Yankee Book Peddler UK Core Title for 2012 'Those who have anticipated the publication of Donna Sadler's appraisal of the verso sculpture at Reims Cathedral will be delighted with this book, especially for its elucidation of the reverse façade sculpture within the contexts of the sculpture program of the entire building and of the western painted stained glass program. Her integrated interpretation considers not only Reims but also related monuments from throughout the Christian West. Skillfully connecting context to literature and to images, this study synthesizes previous readings of the material and it explicates the Latin texts associated with the building, its history, and its ceremonial use.' Janet E. Snyder, West Virginia University 'Sadler’s detailed and nuanced study of the verso sculpture at Reims Cathedral represents a valuable contribution to the wealth of literature on Reims and its sculpture. The author not only sheds light on a work that has not received much in the way of scholarly attention, but expands our understanding of the sculpture throughout the building in relation to ecclesiastical and royal power. Sadler is able to provide a rich reading of the verso sculpture by exploring it within the context of other interior sculptural programs... This book has tremendous value for not only students of medieval sculpture but also for those interested in the history of Reims Cathedral.' Comitatus '... much of the value of Sadler’s argument lies in the details. Her specific interpretations of figures and scenes represented in the Reims verso cannot be easily summarized in this review. Readers interested in the complex intersections of art and thought in thirteenth-century France will need to experience this book for themselves.' CAA Reviews 'Sadler’s book is certain to remain an important work on the iconography of the Reims reverse façade. In addition to her astute typological, moralizing, and formal readings of this iconographic program,