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Shedding radiant light in the Big Apple

Shedding radiant light in the Big Apple

After 19 weeks on display in a highly successful exhibition at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, six of the Cathedral’s earliest and most important surviving examples of stained glass depicting some of the ancestors of Jesus Christ have been removed, packed and shipped to New York, where they are currently on display.

Léonie Seliger, the Cathedral’s Director of Stained Glass, and Grace Ayson, one of the team of Conservators in the Stained Glass studio, flew to America in early February 2014 to oversee the transfer of the precious 12th century glass.

7. View of The Cloisters MuseumThe New York exhibition, entitled Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral, opened on the 25 February 2014 at The Cloisters—a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The world famous museum is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. The building and its cloistered gardens—located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan—are considered treasures in themselves; they effectively form part of the collection housed there. The Cloisters’ collection comprises approximately 2,000 works of art. The current exhibition completes the celebration of the 75th anniversary year of the founding of The Cloisters. The exhibition has been made possible by the Ruddock Foundation for the Arts.

The Ancestors of Christ windows originally consisted of eighty-six life-sized seated patriarchs of the Old Testament, 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. (The Cathedral is dedicated to Jesus Christ, so it was appropriate that His ancestors were depicted – originally in the clerestory windows of the Quire and Trinity Chapel). 43 figures of the original series survive: 22 of these have been housed in the Cathedral’s Great South window since the 18th Century. In 2009, the precious stained glass was temporarily removed from the window to allow the Cathedral’s masons to undertake essential repairs to the window’s tracery.

Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral features six of the patriarchs— Jareth, Lamech, Noah, Phalec, Thara and Abraham. These imposing figures are masterpieces of Romanesque art, and exude an aura of dignified power. The angular limbs, form-defining drapery, and encompassing folds of the mantles all add a sculptural quality to the majestic figures, which are remarkably legible, even at a distance. In their normal habitat of the Great South window, the windows can be up to 60 feet above floor level. The display at The Cloisters has been arranged in a tower like structure.

To enhance the visitors’ experience, the exhibition will be accompanied by an interactive panorama of the Cathedral on a large touch-screen monitor, providing visitors with a 360-degree view of the building’s interior, and showing the windows in situ. A commissioned audio tour, including interviews with the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Rev Dr Robert Willis and Metropolitan Museum curator Timothy Husband, is also available. Additional events have been planned to celebrate the exhibition, including an educational programme entitled A Sunday at the Met on 2 March 2014 at 15:00 in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, and an ensemble of early music entitled Music for Canterbury Cathedral performed by Blue Heron on Sunday, 13 April, at 13:00 and 15:00 in the Fuentidueña Chapel at The Cloister.

Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral opened at the Met Museum on 25 February and will run until 18 May 2014.

If you happen to be visiting New York, we would welcome your thoughts on the exhibition. Please email us at

In the Press

Click below to view related coverage from the local, national and international media

Luminous Canterbury Pilgrims – The New York Times (27/02/2014)

‘Met’s Cloisters to showcase 12th century Canterbury Cathedral glass’– Auction Central News (29/01/2014)

‘NYC museum to display stained glass windows from England’s Canterbury Cathedral’– Daily Journal (20/02/2014)

‘NY Museum to Display Canterbury Windows’– abc News (21/02/2014)

‘NY museum to display Canterbury windows’ – Yahoo News – Philippines (21/02/2014)

‘Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral” opens at the Metropolitan Museum’– Art Daily (24/02/2014)

‘NY museum to display Canterbury windows’ – The Chronicle (24/02/2014)

‘Highlights: Stained Glass’– Apollo Magazine (24/02/2014)

‘Met Museum Opens RADIANT LIGHT: STAINED GLASS FROM CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL’ Today – Broadway World (25/02/2014)

‘Art Buzz: Canterbury Cathedral’s Stained Glass on Exhibit in New York’ – Luxury Travel Advisors (25/02/2014)

‘Radiant Light – Glories of Cathedral Glass at The Cloisters’ – The Culture Concept Circle – (26/02/2014)

On View: Medieval Masterpieces from England’s Canterbury Cathedral at the Cloisters – New York dot com (26/02/2014)

Ramen Engelse kathedraal even in New York – Reformatorisch Dagblad- The Netherlands (26/02/2014)

Stained Glass Windows from Canterbury Cathedral go on View at the Cloisters – AFA News (27/02/2014)

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