Beauvais, Cathedral

 

Official name:  Cathedral of Saint-Pierre
Built: 1225-1384
Designed by: Bishop Miles of Nanteuil, Bishop Robert of Cressonsac, and Bishop William of Grez
Location: Rue Saint Pieree, Beauvais, France
The Cathedral of St. Pierre in Beauvais isn't famous so much for its soaring beauty, but for the day it came crashing down. Cathedral building in Medieval France was plagued by turf battles. Without a stable government, it's hard to get long term projects like Cathedrals built without interruption. At first, the church was going to be a symbol of French unity and a masterpiece of architecture. But as the project moved forward, people fell out of favor, money became tight, and priorities changed. Later the cathedral project was reinvigorated. In fact, under Bishop William of Grez, an extra 16 feet were added to the height to make it the tallest cathedral in Europe. That seemed like a good idea at the time. But in 1248 the choir section collapsed. Money was diverted from the rest of the project to repair that section, and the nave was never completed. Academics like to exercise themselvs over the reasons for the collapse, but its effects are plain. Enthusiasm for the project declined, and while up close the cathedral is a magnificent piece of architecture, from a distance, it is clearly a shell of what it could have been, lacking even a steeple. In reality, the cathedral once had a tower, but like the cathedral nave, it too collapsed. 
1225 - Construction begins under the direction of Bishop Miles of Nanteuil
1232 - Construction is completed on the first phase
1238 - Construction begins under the direction of Bishop Robert of Cressonsac
1250 - Construction continues under the direction of Bishop William of Grez
1284 - The cathedral partially collapses
1384 - The choir is repaired
1564 - Work begins on the church tower
1569 - The church tower is completed
1573 - The church tower collapses

 

36'' x 26''
oil on canvas