Reims Cathedral

Date: Mid-thirteenth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): France
Description: The present Reims Cathedral, or Notre-Dame de Reims, was built after the previous cathedral burned down in 1210. Fire also destroyed the original roof and the spires in 1481. The west facade, with its two towers and three portals, is notable for its archivolts and many sculptures. From left to right (i.e., north to south), the portals focus on Christ, Mary, and the Last Judgement.

The sculptural representation of the coronation of the Virgin connects the central portal to coronations represented in the windows of the triforium and to actual royal coronations that took place at Reims. Much of the west facade's stained glass has been preserved, although often with significant restoration. Complementing the central portal's sculptural program is the west rose window, with its central medallion depicting the Assumption of the Virgin.

One of the most famous sculptures at Reims Cathedral is the so-called Smiling Angel, or "Le Sourire de Reims" (the Smile of Reims), of the north portal. Medieval texts sometimes describe angels as having no specific gender, which has led some art historians to queer their interpretations of the Smiling Angel. It may have been intended to appear ambiguous in gender or to evoke a homosexual man.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 8
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

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