J. Paul Getty Museum
J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
90049-1687 Los Angeles CA
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J. Paul Getty Museum : Canterbury and St. Albans
Jared, from the Ancestors of Christ Windows, Canterbury Cathedral, England, 1178-80, colored glass and vitreous paint; lead came. Image В© Robert Greshoff Photography, Courtesy Dean and Chapter of Canterbury.

J. Paul Getty Museum

Canterbury and St. Albans: Treasures from Church and Cloister

September 20, 2013–February 2, 2014

J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687

Phone: +1 (310) 440-7330
Fax: +1 (310) 440-7751
E-mail: (for general Museum inquiries)


This exhibition brings together two masterpieces of medieval English art: panels of stained glass from Canterbury Cathedral showing life-sized figures from the Old Testament are displayed alongside the St. Albans Psalter, a splendidly illuminated book of psalms.

Uniting monumental glass painting with the art of book illumination, this presentation explores how specific texts, prayers, and environments shaped the medieval viewer’s understanding of these pictures during the great century of art making following the Norman Conquest of England.

The panels of glass have been temporarily de-installed and pages from the St. Albans Psalter, unbound—allowing visitors to experience these works at a proximity enjoyed by few in their long and storied histories. The windows would have been visible to monks sitting in the communal space of the cathedral’s choir, and the psalter was meant to be held in one’s hands as an object of personal devotion.В 

The early 12th-century manuscript’s graceful, powerfully drawn figures and saturated colors mark the arrival of the Romanesque style of painting in England. The windows from Canterbury, made toward the end of the century, represent this style at its apex and are the finest examples of English Romanesque glass that survive.


The Book

The Ancestors of Christ Windows at Canterbury Cathedral

Jeffrey Weaver and Madeline H. Caviness

Eighty-six near-life-size figures of the male ancestors of Christ once looked down on the choir and eastern extension of the medieval cathedral and priory church of Canterbury. Made of colored glass, with the details of the faces and costumes painted on the surface, the ancestors of Christ windows illuminated the liturgical areas during all but the earliest services in the depths of winter, glowing pale blue at dawn and yellow and red at noon. Dating from the twelfth century, the surviving windows from this series are among the oldest panels of stained glass in England, and they are significant examples of what was at the time a relatively new art—monumental stained glass. They are also considered to be among the most famous works of English medieval painting.

This luminously illustrated book discusses the original context, iconographic program, and stylistic development of these windows. It also explores how the windows were perceived by various medieval viewing constituencies, including royals, peasants, princes of the church, the local Jewish community, and monks resident at Canterbury.

The Ancestors of Christ Windows at Canterbury CathedralВ is published on the occasion of the exhibitionВ Canterbury and St. Albans: Treasures from Church and CloisterВ on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from September 20, 2013, to February 2, 2014.

Jeffrey Weaver is associate curator in the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Madeline H. Caviness is Mary Richardson Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art and Art History at Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts.

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