Gothic Architecture and Royal Power: Saint Denis, Notre Dame, and Sainte-Chapelle with Katherine Baker - Context Travel

Gothic Architecture and Royal Power: Saint Denis, Notre Dame, and Sainte-Chapelle with Katherine Baker

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The history of Gothic architecture and the city of Paris are intimately linked -- a connection that makes sense for a building style so associated with light and beauty. In this conversation, join art historian Dr. Katherine Baker as she takes you through the progress of the Gothic across the City of Lights, visiting some of the capital’s most renowned locations.

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.

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.