Canterbury Visits California

Six stained glass figures from the famed cathedral will show at the Getty.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    © Robert Greshoff
    The Getty Center will display a stained-glass panels from Canterbury Cathedral from Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 2.

    It's a known fact that there's a lot of UK in LA, and not just the actors who live here for access to the entertainment industry. BritWeek annually showcases British industry, fashion, food, and other sectors that are alive and vigorous within the Golden State's boundaries.

    And while people and their interests can and do travel to and from California, stained glass windows found in the celebrated ancient cathedrals most certainly do not. One must go to Canterbury Cathedral if one wants to see Canterbury Cathedral, goes the old saying (or that's how the old saying should go, anyway).

    But a stunning segment of one of the world's best-known buildings -- best-known for several reasons, but let's lay the thanks at Geoffrey Chaucer's feet in part -- will be winging towards The Getty Center in September. Six stained glass figures from Canterbury Cathedral will go on display from Friday, Sept. 20 through Sunday, Feb. 2.

    The windows, which are from The Ancestors of Christ series, are some of the earliest to be found at the Cathedral; they survived a 1174 fire and a long-ago Cathedral re-design. So how are such rarities on their way to LA? The Great South Window of Canterbury Cathedral is undergoing "conservation on the architectural framing."

    Meaning that, yes, the window will one day return to its home at the World Heritage Site.

    But medieval mavens have another treat in store: The St. Albans Psalter, from about 1130, will be displayed in conjunction with the Canterbury window. The "lavishly decorated manuscript" is on loan to the Getty from The Cathedral Library in Hildesheim, Germany.

    Fans of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," architectural students, and lovers of glassworks, it turns out, don't always have to make the pilgrimage to Canterbury to experience the cathedral. Or at least a hue-pretty, history-filled stained-glass panels, a rare and rarely moved artwork that'll call sunny SoCal home for a few months.

    As lively and iconclastic as Chaucer was, this is one curious plot twist not found within his famous tales.

    Image: Noah, from the Ancestors of Christ Windows, Canterbury Cathedral, England, 1178-1180; design attributed to the Methuselah Master.  Colored glass and vitreous paint, lead came; 148.8 x 69.5 cm (58 1/2 x 27 3/8 in.). © Robert Greshoff Photography, courtesy Dean and Chapter of Canterbury (top: detail)

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