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Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral at The Cloisters

February 25–May 18, 2014

The Clerestory Windows of Canterbury

The stained-glass Ancestors of Christ were originally in the clerestory (uppermost) windows ringing the choir. Beginning with Adam in the northwest corner of the choir, the series continued, representing the genealogy in order, around the eastern end of the cathedral, concluding with a depiction of Christ in the southwest corner. Forty-three of the original eighty-five figures survive. All have a large name band running behind the head that makes them identifiable from the floor sixty feet below. In the late eighteenth century, the majority of the figures were moved to the Great South Window in the southwest transept, while many of the original borders were left in the clerestory windows. The panels from this transept window have been temporarily removed so that conservation can be done on the stonework of the architectural framing. Six Ancestors of Christ figures from this window are exhibited here along with sections of their original borders that have been removed for the exhibition. As a result, four of the figures are here reunited with their borders for the first time in more than two hundred years. They are shown in the twelfth-century manner, with the iron armatures (mounting bars) exposed.