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Cathedrals 7:
Lausanne rose window

Maquette of the South Rose window at Lausanne Cathedral

 

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New translation, the Magna Carta

The rose window at Lausanne [1231–35] in the south facade is considered to be one of the most important roses in Europe, together with those at Notre Dame in Paris and at Chartres. The Lausanne South Rose was made by a wandering artist from Picardy, Pierre d’Arras, and is related in style and iconography to that of the Laon workshop.

In medieval times, a rose window was round like the universe. This Imago Mundi, summing up all human knowledge, is seen in the spectacular early rose window in Lausanne cathedral. The stone tracery was built in about 1205, while the glass was placed in about 1230.

related pages:

  • analysis of a stained glass story window at Rouen
  • Dax and church iconography
  • Keyed diagram of the South Rose window at Lausanne cathedral
              Keyed diagram of the South Rose window [1]

    The diagram above shows the present-day arrangement of the enormous Lausanne rose, which has a diameter of eight metres, or twenty-six feet. In the list below, panels marked with an asterisk were replaced during its 1909 restoration.

    The window is arranged in concentric ‘circles’.
    In the middle diamond, the central panel is surrounded by four allegories of the creation.
    Next, reading outwards, come four semicircular lobes containing the four seasons accompanied by the appropriate months.
    Next at the compass points, come four circles. Each circle contains two panels referring to the four elements and, on the inner side, three signs of the zodiac panels (summing to twelve).
    Towards the outside, at the X-points, the arcs illustrate the four rivers of paradise.
    And flying around the outside are the eight winds.
    More detail is available below.

    Although the central panel now shows a creation scene, originally there was a personification of the Year, Annus. Note that other than the replaced central panel, there is no Christian iconography in this rose, unlike the 13th-century roses at Chartres.

    Central panels: Creator, light and dark, land and water, birds and fishes, animals and men
    Central panels: Creator, light and dark, land and water, birds and fishes, animals and men
    [n°s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 :
    centre, top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right]

    In the small central square [diamond]:

    2 Light and dark* 3 Land and sea*
    1 The Creator*
    4 Fish and birds* 5 Animals and men *

    In the four semicircles:

    Spring,  with March, April, May
    [n°s 12, 11, 6, 10 :
    top left, top right, centre, bottom right]

    12 May, on a white horse, carries his falcon to the hunt
    11 April, wearing a toque, flowers in hand, opens the door to his garden
      6 Spring, a man surrounded by flowers and leaves and holding a flower
    10 March, wearing a cotton turban-like hat, pruning the vines

    Summer, surrounded by  June, July, August
    [n°s 14, 13, 7, 15 :
    top left, top right, centre, bottom left]

    14 July, reaps the harvest with a sickle
    13 June, incorrectly labelled JULIUS, cuts the hay
      7 Summer, red rays warming the blue sky
    15 August, stripped to the waist, threshes the harvest under a baking sun

    Autumn, surrounded by September, October, November
    [n°s 16, 8, 17, 18 :
    top left, centre, bottom left, bottom right]

    16 September, harvesting the grapes
      8 Autumn, amid the red and white grapes
    17 October, tending his pigs while they eat acorns (and hunt for truffles?)
    18 November, the month of cattle and pig slaughter

    Winter surrounded by December, January, February
    [n°s 21, 9, 19, 20 :
    top right, centre, bottom left, bottom right]

    21 February, warming his hands*
     9 Winter, dressed in white and hooded, weathers a storm of icicles
    19 December, raising his glass to death, symbolises the year that has gone*
    20 January, a double-headed Janus figure, with one hand holding up his cup to
             the bountiful year ahead, the other looking at the year that has passed

    The four elements and the zodiac:

    Earth surrounded by Aeromancy, Scorpio, Libra and Saggitarius
    Earth surrounded by Aeromancy, Scorpio, Libra and Saggitarius
    [n°s 33, 40, 22, 32, 34 :
    top, centre left, centre, centre right, bottom]

    33 Libra
    40 Aeromancy, surrounded by seven doves by whom she foretells the future
    22 Earth, a woman surrounded with ears of corn
    32 Scorpio
    34 Saggitarius

    Water surrounded by the Moon, Aquarius, Capricorn and Pisces
    Water surrounded by the Moon, Aquarius, Capricorn and Pisces
    [n° 35, 36, 23, 37, 39 :
    top, centre left, centre, centre right, bottom ]

    35 Capricorn
    36 Aquarius
    23 Water, breastfeeding a fish
    37 Pisces
    39 The moon being drawn across the sky in a chariot but with only two horses

    Air surrounded by Pyromancy, Gemini, Aries and Taurus
    Air surrounded by Pyromancy, Gemini, Aries and Taurus
    [n°s 28, 26, 24, 41, 27 :
    top, centre left, centre, centre right, bottom ]

    28 Gemini
    26 Aries
    24 Air, breastfeeding a dragon
    41 Pyromancy, foretelling the future from the flames of the fire
    27 Taurus

    Fire surrounded by the Sun, Virgo, Cancer and Leo
    Fire surrounded by the Sun, Virgo, Cancer and Leo
    [n°s 38, 25, 31, 29, 30 :
    top, centre left, centre, centre right, bottom]

           38 The sun with a fiery halo being drawn across the sky in a chariot
    25 Fire, feeding a salamander
    31 Virgo
    29 Scorpio
           30 Leo

    26-37 The signs of the zodiac portrayed in usual medieval style;
    (27, 29, 34 and 36 are replacements)

    The four rivers of Paradise, illustrated as bearded men pouring their waters across the four corners of the earth. they are ‘accompanied’ by various peoples and creatures:
    42 The Geon (Nile)
    43 The Tigris

    River Phison (Ganges, surrounded by Pygmy and a Satyr, with January
    [N°s 20, 50, 44, 51
    this is a sample of the rivers and peoples groups :
    top left circle : January,
    bottom right circle: Phison (Ganges)
    top right hemisphere : Pygmies
    bottom left hemishere : a Satyr]

    44 The Phison (Ganges)
    45 The Euphrates

    46 Ethiopians, with four eyes to help the accuracy of their archery
    47 Gangaridae, inhabitants of the Ganges who supposedly lived off the sweet smell of fruit - and died in the presence of any foul odour
    48 Acephali, creatures with no heads and with eyes in their bodies
    49 Cynocephali, dog-headed men, thought to live in India
    50 Pygmies, also thought to inhabit India, here fighting a crane
    51 A Satyr, a small hook-nosed creature with horns and goat-like feet
    52 Sciapodes, creatures that lived in the desert and had only one foot, which they used as a sunshade*
    53 Cephi, elusive creatures detectable only by their human-like footprints

    The eight winds:
    54 Auster, the south wind
    55 Euroauster, the south-east wind
    56 Subsolanus, the eastern wind of the Levant

    Vulturnus, south-east wind

    57 Vulturnus, the south-east wind
    58 Septentrion, the north wind
    59 Corus, the north-west summer wind
    60 Zephyr, the west wind
    61 Austerozephyr, the south-west wind

    end notes

    1. This diagram and the key are from

      The rose window, splendour and symbol by Painton CowenFive GoldenYak (tm) award

      Thames and Hudson [UK], hbk, 2005
      276 pages, 350 illustrations, 300 in colour
      ISBN-10: 0500511748
      ISBN-13: 978-0500511749
      £29.99 [amazon.co.uk]
      $63.75 [amazon.com]

      Previously, Painton Cowen also wrote
      Rose windows (Art & Imagination)

      pbk, 1990
      ISBN-10: 0500810214
      ISBN-13: 978-0500810217
      amazon.com / amazon.co.uk

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