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These mighty western portals are the glory of the French cathedral. Peopled with a countless host of statues, enriched with an infinite wealth of detail, they mark the utmost achievement of Gothic decorative art. The central portal of Paris is in six orders; the two side portals are only less sumptuous. No photograph can give an idea of the splendor and variety of this detail which is, nevertheless, always so strictly subordinated to architectural requirements.

The façade of Noyon (Ill. 252), while in no way possessing the majesty and beauty of the west front of Paris, is still not without a grandeur and an austere charm of its own. The design is peculiar in that the rose window is omitted and there is only a single gallery. The great interest and charm of this façade lies in the narthex porch which precedes it. This feature was developed into a series of projecting gables of matchless charm in the noble façade of Laon (Ill. 222),—a façade whose design, while lacking the repose and majesty of Paris, is still notable for its subtly moulded planes and varied surfaces, with their charming play of light and shade.

The superb façade of Amiens (Ill. 253), of which, unfortunately, only the three lower stories are of the XIII century, would doubtless have been the noblest of all Gothic frontispieces, had it been finished according to the original design. The portals in nine orders of extraordinary richness are among the most astounding compositions ever produced by Gothic art (Ill. 254). These splendid entrance-ways are filled from top to bottom with the finest productions of medieval sculpture; yet all this detail is strictly architectural in character, and never distracts the eye from the main lines of the edifice. The general design of this façade is peculiar in that both galleries are placed below the great rose window. The outer edges of the great buttresses are flush with the portals, but not obscured by them; and the retreats of the buttresses are crowned by splendid pinnacles. The detail of the entire composition is of unequaled excellence.

Full of poetry and imagination is the façade of Reims (Ill. 224). If the firmness and virility of Paris are felt to be lacking in this design, it is still impossible to quarrel with such a lovely

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phantasy. Notwithstanding the exuberant wealth of detail with which this front is adorned, the main divisions are as

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strongly marked, and even more simple than those of the façade. of Paris, since there are only four, instead of five, horizontal

divisions. It is to be noticed that the gables of the portals of Reims, unlike those of Amiens, project beyond the buttresses, and are, as it were, wrapped around them. The lower parts of the buttresses thus seem to fade away. This disposition is unfortunate, since it destroys the all-important vertical lines of the façade and hides from sight an important structural member.

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Transept ends were usually designed on principles quite similar to those which governed the composition of the west façade. Since, however, they were less important than the main front of the church, the design was ordinarily less elaborate, and the towers which were almost invariably intended to flank the central gable have seldom been carried above the roof.

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