What Pieces of Art Survived the Notre Dame Fire and What was Lost

On April 15, the roof of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught on fire. The fire burned for 12 hours before firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze. While the roof of the Cathedral and the iconic spire collapsed, not everything is a loss. A lot of the precious relics and artwork were able to be saved from the building. First responders and firefighters formed a human chain to pass many of the artifacts to safety.

 

According to French Culture Minister Franck Riester, many of the most vital artwork and artifacts were able to be saved. Many of the pieces will be moved to the Louvre to be restored or repaired if needed. The Crown of Thorns thought to be worn by Jesus during his crucifixion, and a 13th-century tunic believed to be worn by St. Louis, the only French king that was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

 

A number of other famed pieces of art survived the fire. The three large stained glass Rose Windows survived the fire and don’t seem to have suffered any significant damage. The Cathedral’s grand organ, made up of over 8,000 pipes with some dating back to the Medieval period, is also thought to be safe, although it may have experienced water damage while the fire was being extinguished. The copper statues of the 12 apostles are safe. The statues had been removed a few days before the fire to be cleaned and restored, as they were badly tarnished.

 

Four large-scale paintings of the apostles from the 17th and 18th century suffered at least part damage. A separate part of the Crown of Thorns is known to have been lost during the fire, in addition to relics from two other saints. The unofficial symbol of France, a Gallic depiction of a rooster, is in poor shape.

 

The status of many items inside the Cathedral is unknown. State employees have to wait 48 hours before being allowed to enter the building to be able to care for the artwork inside. The fate of a nail and piece of wood believed to have used in the crucifixion of Jesus are unknown.

 

Because the fire was mostly contained to the roof, it’s believed that the flames have not damaged most of the artwork inside. However, there may be smoke damage to the pieces. Starting Friday, some of the most significant pieces of art will start being removed.  

Seven Great Women Artists Throughout History

These seven women made an incredible impact on the art world.

 

Mary Cassatt (1844–1926)

Cassatt was a painter and printmaker who is remembered as the only American artist associated with the Impressionist movement. Frequently, her subjects were women and children. Her famous works include The Mandolin Player and In the Loge.

 

American Modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)

O’Keeffe was heavily influenced by photography. Many of her paintings imitated photographic techniques such as cropping and close-ups. Red Canna and Black Iris III are enlarged floral images that are typical of O’Keeffe’s work.

 

Painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Kahlo closely tied her identity, her artwork, and her homeland of Mexico. About one-third of her paintings are self-portraits, which often reflected her emotions surrounding events in her life. The Two Fridas show her conflicted feelings at the time of her divorce from Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

 

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)

Kusama is known for paintings and art installations featuring polka dots. She has also created mirrored rooms as art installations to explore the concept of infinity. In 2017, Kusama had the distinction of being the world’s top-selling female artist.

 

American sculptor Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907)

Lewis relocated to Rome as a young adult to pursue her profession in an environment that did not single her out for her color. (Her father was African-American and her mother was Native American.) Her work depicted neoclassical, biblical, contemporary subjects. The Death of Cleopatra is a masterpiece of realism and was commissioned to celebrate America’s centennial in 1876.

 

Printmaker and sculptor Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)

Catlett was born in the United States but moved to Mexico in 1946, which became her home for the rest of her life. Her work depicts African-American and Mexican life and often has strong political themes. Her notable sculptures include Homage to My Young Black Sisters and Tired.

 

Agnes Martin (1912–2004)

Born and raised in Canada, Martin moved to the United States in 1931. While Martin’s early paintings are representational, her style evolved during her career. Eventually, geometric images featuring lines and grids became her signature work. Martin is sometimes classified as minimalist although her paintings also show the influence of surrealism, cubism, and abstract expressionism. White Stone, Little Sister, and Fiesta are some of her celebrated works.

How Art History Needs to Change in 2019

The underlying issue with history of any kind is that the subject itself is subjective. A saying commonly attributed to Winston Churchill is that “history is written by the victors.” In many ways, art history is no different in this regard.

 

According to a study conducted by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, staff hired by art museums tend to favor predominantly non African-American and Hispanics. A rough total of 7 percent of workers are made up of said minorities. This shows a distressing lack of cultural and racial diversity in regards to the staff employed in art museums.

 

This is an important factor as art history refers to the collective artistic culture of humanity throughout the ages. Every person has their own interpretation of how art is viewed, and this should be reflected by the staff hired to educate those who come to witness history.

 

Art is by its very nature a constantly changing structure where what’s vogue at the time is constantly in a state of flux. However, due to the perception of the kind of art that is considered popular or correct at the time, many artists find themselves marginalized. Those artists who pursue different styles, or create pieces particularly poking at the edges of civilized sensitivity, find themselves relegated to the wayside of history. More must be done to include such artists with the purpose of broadening horizons to better reflect the times of today.

 

That is not to say there has been no progress on that front. The museum located in Tate, Britain have recently opened a tour called “A Queer Walk Through British Art.” This tour includes pieces that highlight an alternate view of human sexuality throughout history. One such example is the “Ena and Betty”, a painting created in 1901 by John Singer Sargent that subtly highlights close female companionship of a possibly homoerotic kind.

 

This, of course, is open to interpretation as are many pieces in that same gallery. As noted before, everyone has a different view on art, and that is something that should be embraced. It is through these differing viewpoints that complex histories may be unraveled and new discoveries may be made. What one person sees as a simple, but tasteful painting, another may find hidden meaning underneath the canvas.

Artists Not Known Until After Death

An oft-repeated (though false) account states that Moby Dick author Herman Melville was so underappreciated during his lifetime, the New York Times referred to him as “Henry Melville” in his obituary. While this story is untrue, there can be no doubt that many artists don’t receive their due until after they’ve shed this mortal coil. Here’s a look at some of these latter-sung heroes.

 

Vincent van Gogh

It’s true: The genius behind The Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night, as well as a legion of other influential works, sold only one painting during his lifetime. (Trivia buffs, take note: It was Red Vineyard at Arles.) His style didn’t fit with the Impressionists of the age, with critics denouncing it as too moody and dark.

 

Paul Gauguin

The post-Impressionist painter would later be a significant influence on fellow avant-garde artists, Matisse and Picasso among them, but he didn’t receive many kudos while he was still living. His experimental works were just a little too ahead of their time.

 

Claude Monet

It seems that leaders always bear the brunt of the battle, even in the relatively genteel world of paint and canvas. Monet was a founding father of the Impressionist movement, and as such was seen as something of a renegade for his use of light colors and proclivity for landscape scenes.

 

Georges-Pierre Seurat

Even if the name is unfamiliar, even amateurs are likely to recognize Seurat’s most iconic oil painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. He relied heavily on color to achieve the mood he wanted for his work, something that wasn’t widely appreciated at the time. Nor was his signature technique, Pointillism, which uses many tiny brush dots to create a bigger image. Both conceits have gone on to become art class staples.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron

This British photographer had a reputation for getting up close and personal with her subjects, creating intimate portraits that were perhaps a shade too revealing for the critics of her day. She passed away in 1879, but her work didn’t become widely seen or appreciated until 1948–nearly three-quarters of a century later.