Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Narrative Illustration can shown through more complex examples, however. In modern times, where 82% of the world’s population can be considered literate#, the term Poor Man’s Bible has come in use to describe works of art within churches and cathedrals created to illustrate passages of the bible to a largely illiterate population. Though this can include anything from stone sculptures to illuminated manuscripts or panel paintings, prominent amongst all of them is the art of stained glass windows. A major art form in the cathedrals and churches of France, Spain, England and Germany, one particularly noteworthy and complex narrative device is the presence of juxtaposing bible references, where Old Testament incidents are seen to foreshadow events in the new testament. In the east window of St Mary's (Chilham, UK) we see five such pairings, with the five stages of the death and resurrection of Jesus set above smaller biblical foils from the old testament. Jesus’ crucifixion on the third panel, for example, is mirrored by the Israelites sacrificing lambs and painting their doors with its blood as a sign to the Lord’s angel. Next, his resurrection in the next panel is linked to Jonah being spat out by a large fish which had eaten him three days previously.

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