Notre Dames famous stained glass window is immortalised on Art Mint’s stunning new silver coin

Very much in the news after the catastrophic fire earlier this year, the stunning architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris has been the inspiration for many works of art in countless different mediums. Numismatics have been no exception to that, with some fine examples in recent years, like Numiscollect’s entry in its Sacred Art series, and the quirky Gargoyles and Grotesques from Ibex Coins. Art Mint, based around Paris, have now added their own issue to the mix and it’s absolutely outstanding.

Struck in three ounces of fine silver, this is ostensibly an offshoot of this producers beautiful Mandala Art series, but is in essence a reproduction in miniature of the cathedrals fantastic Northern Rose Window, a masterpiece in the art of stained glass windows. We could go on about the level of detail and the fine colour application, of course, but the big images we have here should tell you everything you need to know. An extraordinary piece of work.

It’s issued for Fiji and the obverse has that countries national emblem on it, but is otherwise pretty ordinary. This one is all about the reverse face, and rightly so. The smooth edge of the coin carries a serial number and an engraved date for the fire alongside the name of the cathedral and it’s great to see that Art Mint are donating some money from the proceeds towards the restoration fund for this epic building. Hopefully, I will be around to see it restored to its full architectural glory.

Packaging is very well done and reminiscent of that used for the latter issues of CIT’s iconic Tiffany Art coins. Devoid of unnecessary decoration, it frames the coin perfectly without distraction. There are only 100 examples of this being struck and it isn’t a bargain basement item, but that hasn’t stopped in selling out at the mint inside of a day, so those few at dealers now are just about all that’s out there. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford one, you owe it to yourself to take a closer look at least. I personally like Art Mints approach to their coins, but even in that context, this is a terrific release and my favourite in their entire portfolio. The coin is what numismatics is all about, in my view. This will have as much appeal a century from now.

NOTRE DAME DE PARIS

Notre-Dame de Paris is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and it’s among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass serve to contrast it with earlier Romanesque architecture. The cathedral treasury contains a reliquary, which houses some of Catholicism’s most important relics, including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.

Notre-Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress. The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave but after the construction began, the thinner walls grew ever higher and stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral’s architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern. The total surface area is 5,500 m² .

Many small individually crafted statues were placed around the outside to serve as column supports and water spouts. Among these are the famous gargoyles, designed for water run-off, and chimeras. The statues were originally coloured as was most of the exterior., but the paint has worn off. The cathedral was essentially complete by 1345. The cathedral has a narrow climb of 387 steps at the top of several spiral staircases; along the climb it is possible to view its most famous bell and its gargoyles in close quarters, as well as having a spectacular view across Paris when reaching the top.

The most significant change in design came in the mid 13th century, when the transepts were remodelled in the latest Rayonnant style; in the late 1240s Jean de Chelles added a gabled portal to the north transept topped off by a spectacular rose window.

THE ROSE WINDOWS

The stained glass windows of Notre-Dame, particularly the three rose windows, are among the most famous features of the cathedral. The west rose window, over the portals, was the first and smallest of the roses in Notre-Dame. It is 9.6 metres in diameter, and was made in about 1225, with the pieces of glass set in a thick circular stone frame. None of the original glass remains in this window; it was recreated in the 19th century.

The two transept windows are larger and contain a greater proportion of glass than the rose on the west façade, because the new system of buttresses made the nave walls thinner and stronger. The north rose was created in about 1250, and the south rose in about 1260. The south rose in the transept is particularly notable for its size and artistry. It is 12.9 metres in diameter; with the claire-voie surrounding it, a total of 19 metres. It was given to the Cathedral by King Louis IX of France, known as Saint Louis.

The south rose has 94 medallions, arranged in four circles, depicting scenes from the life of Christ and those who witnessed his time on earth. The inner circle has twelve medallions showing the twelve apostles. (During later restorations, some of these original medallions were moved to circles farther out). The next two circles depict celebrated martyrs and virgins. The fourth circle shows twenty angels, as well as saints important to Paris, notably Saint Denis, Margaret the Virgin with a dragon, and Saint Eustace. The third and fourth circles also have some depictions of Old Testament subjects. The third circle has some medallions with scenes from the New Testament Gospel of Matthew which date from the last quarter of the 12th century. These are the oldest glass in the window.

Additional scenes in the corners around the rose window include Jesus’ Descent into Hell, Adam and Eve, the Resurrection of Christ. Saint Peter and Saint Paul are at the bottom of the window, and Mary Magdalene and John the Apostle at the top.

Above the rose was a window depicting Christ triumphant seated in the sky, surrounded by his Apostles. Below are sixteen windows with painted images of Prophets. These were not part of the original window; they were painted during the restoration in the 19th century by Alfred Gérenthe, under the direction of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, based upon a similar window at Chartres Cathedral.

The south rose had a difficult history. In 1543 it was damaged by the settling of the masonry walls, and not restored until 1725–1727. It was seriously damaged in the French Revolution of 1830. Rioters burned the residence of the archbishop, next to the cathedral, and many of the panes were destroyed. The window was entirely rebuilt by Viollet-le-Duc in 1861. He rotated the window by fifteen degrees to give it a clear vertical and horizontal axis, and replaced the destroyed pieces of glass with new glass in the same style. The window today contains both medieval and 19th century glass.

In the 1960s, after three decades of debate, it was decided to replace many of the 19th-century grisaille windows in the nave designed by Viollet-le-Duc with new windows. The new windows, made by Jacques Le Chevallier, are without human figures and use abstract grisaille designs and colour to try to recreate the luminosity of the Cathedral’s interior in the 13th century.

The 2019 fire left the three great medieval rose windows essentially intact, but with some damage. The rector of the Cathedral noted that one rose window would have to be dismantled, as it was unstable and at risk. Most of the other damaged windows were of much less historical value.(All info courtesy of Wikipedia)

https://www.mdm.de/
SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $10 FJD (Fiji)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 93.3 grams
DIMENSIONS 50.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief, colour
MINTAGE 100
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
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