Reopening of Notre-Dame de Paris with New Liturgical Furniture and Oak Chairs: A Sneak Peek into the Restoration Project

2023-06-23 21:34:25

Notre-Dame de Paris, partially destroyed by fire in 2019, is due to reopen at the end of 2024 with brand new liturgical furniture in dark brown bronze, sober and solid, as well as 1,500 openwork design chairs in solid oak.

The Archbishop of Paris, Mgr Laurent Ulrich, has selected the projects of Guillaume Bardet, 51, and Ionna Vautrin, 43, two French artists and designers, chosen from around sixty candidates, who will produce this furniture in a foundry in the Drôme and a joinery in the Landes, in the south-east and south-west of the country.

Guillaume Bardet, also a ceramist, chose dark brown bronze for the liturgical furniture, a set of five pieces of furniture and sacred objects.

Ionna Vautrin, who notably made lamps in French high-speed TGV trains, opted for solid oak for the seat of the chairs, with simple lines and a backrest with bars low enough to lean on and pray.

Situation of the liturgical furniture project by Guillaume Bardet in the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. [Guillaume Bardet]

Return of the white brilliance of the stone

Notre-Dame, a masterpiece of Gothic art admired around the world, welcomed 12 million visitors on average each year before the fire of April 15, 2019, 2,500 offices and 150 concerts.

On entering the premises “at the end of December 2024 if all goes well”, they will be “surprised” by an “almost new” cathedral, assures the archbishop, enthusiastic.

Notre-Dame has already rediscovered “the fairness of the stone of its walls and the freshness of the paintings of Viollet-Le-Duc (architect renovator in the 19th century, editor’s note) in the radiant chapels”, after “centuries of filth” which had blackened them as much as the smoke of the candles and the fire, he underlines.

The visitor route reviewed

Visitors will also walk along a refined route with simplified circulation which “will embrace the whole mystery of Christian revelation (…) better understood to allow visitors to deepen the meaning of this Jewish and Christian history”.

Regarding signage, the diocese has abandoned the idea of ​​educational projections on the walls. The work continues on calligraphic inscriptions with “research on graphics specific to Notre-Dame, with a strong identity”, according to Bishop Ulrich.

Once the interior refurbishment is complete, barely entering through the main portal, visitors will discover a brand new baptistery (where baptism is given) in copper and polished mirror, with a golden lid imitating the wave of the water and surmounted by a golden cross.

Situation of the liturgical furniture project by Guillaume Bardet and chairs by Ionna Vautrin in the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. [DR]

At the heart of the central axis of the nave, believers and tourists will also see a new sleek geometric altar, “a strong block that seems to be drawn from the earth for the sacrifice of Jesus and which is pacified by transforming itself into a table to celebrate mass. “, according to the archbishop.

At its side, a cathedra (or bishop’s chair) and its associated seat, the tabernacle (small piece of furniture which contains the “consecrated bread”) in the form of a stylized chapel and a thick ambon (or desk on which is placed and read the Bible).

Unlike the previous, disparate liturgical furniture, the 3D models of the future furniture testify to a unity of forms, “not minimalist”, says Bishop Ulrich, but which exude “a formidable presence through the simplicity of their lines”.

A “reliquary wall”

To house the famous crown of thorns of Christ brought back by Saint-Louis, the diocese entrusted another artist, Sylvain Dubuisson, with the design of a “reliquary wall” in openwork wood.

At the heart of this decorative panel, a blue circle, itself surrounded by a vast rose window with a gold background radiating the motif of the cross.

Asked about the intervention of other contemporary artists, the Archbishop did not mention any other name and seems to rule it out, especially inside the chapels surrounding the nave of Notre-Dame, where a space will be reserved for the “confession”.

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