Today, the Sainte-Chapelle de Paris attracts over 1.8 million visitors each year, making it the second-most visited national monument in Paris. From the date of its completion in 1248, visitors have praised Sainte-Chappelle as the most dazzling and archetypal embodiment of Gothic art, especially its stained glass windows, sculptures, and Rayonnant architectural forms. However, the content of its medieval murals have remained essentially unknown in both the academic community and the public sphere because of their poor condition. Building upon the results of Dr Emily Guerry's recent fieldwork, new evidence indicates that the design of these images constitutes a major breakthrough in the style, iconography, and function of sacred paintings in the Gothic age. These paintings testify to the role of art in the creation and affirmation of devotional strategies.
Under the leadership of Dr Guerry, specialists in medieval visual culture at the University of Kent are conducting a collaborative educational project of public engagement in partnership with the Centre des Monuments Nationaux de France. Based on site at the Sainte-Chapelle, “Understanding Iconography” will produce significant and wide-reaching impact by:
- Creating new aids to help visitors engage with sacred art
- Encouraging tourism and enhancing access to this site of international heritage for people from all cultural and faith backgrounds
- Delivering professional development activities for students of all ages
- Offering new educational activities that brings the puzzling content, purpose, and symbolism of medieval art out of the 'Dark Ages' and into the proverbial light.