21st Century Chartres: The Famous Gothic Cathedral is Newly Restored

One of the world’s most famous cathedrals has emerged resplendent after a recent restoration, though some say it has lost something.

Studies undertaken before the restoration showed that simply by rubbing off layers of accumulated dust, which included the residue of two other coatings, from the 15th and 19th centuries, an original 13th-century layer applied over the exposed stone was revealed in an exceptionally well-preserved state. This discovery opened a new chapter in conservators’ thinking about how to approach the project. As Jourd’heuil explains: “It was long believed that Middle-Ages stones were not painted on and left raw, and many original décors were simply scraped off. Now we know the stone was coloured.”

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