Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The Lady Chapel

For May, an unusual image of the Lady Chapel, showing clearly the fine mosaic decoration of the vault. In the centre, Christ as Pantocrator reigns from the cross, which becomes a tree of life from which issue vine branches and streams of water. To the left, Our Lady (Patroness of London) stands before the Tower of London and Tower Bridge; to the right St Peter (Patron of Westminster) stands before a depiction of Westminster Cathedral.

The stunning vault mosaics were designed by Gilbert Pownall (an artist with a mixed history in Westminster Cathedral), and were executed in the 1930s. The gold vault, symbolic of heaven, and depicting the story of our Lady, took five years to complete.

Above the marblework, a band of scenes portrays Our Lady's life; above that, historical events associated with Mary - above you can make out the proclamation of the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and Our Lady bestowing the rosary on St Dominic.

Some of the mosics in the chapel had been completed earlier, by the formidable band of female mosaicists who worked in the Cathedral. Above, the Hepburn-esque Gertrude Martin (who headed the team) works on the prophet Isaiah in 1913.

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