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Architectural distress at DijonΒ 

Published May 20, 2022
Updated Oct 26, 2022

📍 🇫🇷 Architectural distress at Notre-Dame de Dijon

For many, the church of Notre-Dame de Dijon is a gothic masterpiece of the 13th century. But not for English historian John Ruskin (1819-1900), who sees it as the exact definition of incomprehensible degeneration.

What is the problem here?

In a word : the entrance porch. Truth be told, the function and purpose of this high and hollow entrance is hard to understand at first glance. And close-by houses all around it add to the strangeness of the whole by preventing the block from being seen with sufficient distance. Ruskin's analysis enables us to understand the source of such visual misunderstanding: "this is a remarkable mistake, a clumsy copy of old feudal towers with diminutive windows and battlements on the facade".

A misunderstanding bearing two "serious" consequences: a lack of luminosity inside the church and an (alleged, subjective) ugliness of the facade, with its two series of thin pillars inserted bluntly in front of a stone wall, and no harmonious windows or rose windows giving them purpose and grace.

Yet, that being said, we’ll always have the owl carved in the charming “rue de la chouette” - for good luck. Warning : remember to caress it with hygienic precaution, please.

____ Sources ____

>> John Ruskin, "Stones of Venice", 1851

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