The Fourteenth Century Tree of Jesse in the Nave of York Minster

The Fourteenth Century Tree of Jesse in the Nave of York Minster

Reddish, Elisabeth

York Medieval Yearbook, ISSUE No. 2, (2003)


Window sXXXIII situated in the nave of York Minster is a heavily repaired example of a fourteenth century Tree of Jesse design. The subject is familiar to observers of medieval religious art and perhaps best known in stained glass. The Tree of Jesse as a devotional theme in artwork can be traced back as far as the eleventh century, yet it is frequently seen as originating in its most familiar form in the stained glass of St Denis cathedral in 1145 in a window commissioned by Abbot Suger.1 (fig.1) In this window the fundamental elements of the depiction of the Tree were established and were to disseminate, in a relatively restricted form, through th e cathedra ls and churches of France and England in the twelfth century. By the thirteenth century a discernible iconography had been established. The Jesse Tree of the Minster nave, however, which has been dated to c.1310-13202, represents a departure from this tradition and the design emphasises different aspects of the Jesse Tree’s iconography than those of its predecessors.

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