The next phase of Canterbury Cathedral’s exhibition of figures from the internationally important Ancestors of Christ series of windows has been announced. The figures of Jared (Jareth) and Enoch, David and Nathan, will be on display from 28 March until the end of July. Jared and Enoch have been dated to 1178–80 by the CVMA author Madeline Caviness (Further Reading: Caviness 1981). They were originally inserted in NXXII in the north choir clerestory and formed a pair, with Jared occupying the upper part and Enoch the lower part of the window [Figs 4 and 5].
The figures of David and Nathan may be even earlier [Figs 7 and 7]. Although initially dated to around 1220 by Professor Caviness in her 1981 CVMA (GB) catalogue of the cathedral windows, she has subsequently wondered if the archaic style of the drapery worn by the figures means that they might be re-used panels or ‘belles verrières’ from a scheme painted in the second third of the twelfth century. She has also suggested that two other figures in the series (Roboam and Abia – not displayed) may be of the same date as David and Nathan (Further Reading: Caviness 1987). When the figures of David and Nathan were installed in NVII in the north clerestory of the Trinity Chapel, they were also arranged as a pair, with David occupying the upper part and Nathan the lower part of the window.
The Ancestors of Christ windows originally consisted of eighty-six figures, largely based on the list of names contained in the Gospel of St Luke (III, 23–28) and interpolated with additional names from the Gospel of St Matthew (I, 1–17). It was the largest known series of the genealogy of Christ in medieval art (not just in stained glass). Forty-three figures of the original series survive: nine in the choir clerestory, twenty-two in the south-west transept window (sXXVIII), and twelve in the west window (WI). The figures currently being exhibited are from the south-west transept window, whose masonry is being repaired.
M. H. Caviness, The Early Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, Princeton, 1977
M. H. Caviness, The Windows of Christ Church Cathedral Canterbury, CVMA (GB), II, London, 1981
M. H. Caviness, ‘Romanesque “belles verrières” in Canterbury?’, in Romanesque and Gothic Essays for George Zarnecki, ed. N. Stratford, Woodbridge, 1987, pp. 35–38
M. A. Michael, The Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, London, 2004
P. Collinson et al. (eds), A History of Canterbury Cathedral, Oxford, 1995
For further information about this exhibition, see Vidimus no. 44.
For more images of the stained glass at Canterbury Cathedral visit the CVMA Picture Archive.