Finding aid for the Jan van der Meulen photographs of Chartres Cathedral, Circa 1950-1990

Finding aid prepared by Jan Bender and Ann Harrison

Descriptive Summary

Title: Jan van der Meulen photographs of Chartres Cathedral
Date (inclusive): circa 1950-1990
Number: 90.P.6
Creator/Collector: Meulen, Jan van der
Physical Description: 36.0 linear feet (66 boxes)
The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
Abstract: The archive consists of photographs and slides documenting Chartres Cathedral and related buildings of the 12th and 13th centuries taken by architect and art historian Jan van der Meulen and an assistant over the course of many campaigns, mostly between 1959 and 1983.
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Language: Collection material is in English

Biographical/Historical Note

Jan van der Meulen (1929-2011) was a medieval art historian and a leading authority on Chartres Cathedral. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, van der Meulen initially trained as an architect before deciding to study art history, specifically architectural history. After earning a doctorate from Marburg in 1962, van der Meulen devoted himself to research, but he soon found the academic climate in Europe too confining and left for the United states where the interdisciplinary approach he favored found greater acceptance. Van der Meulen taught art history at Pennsylvania State University from 1968 to 1974. He next joined the faculty at Cleveland State University where he taught until his retirement in 1989.
The author of numerous articles and several books, including Chartres: Biographie der Kathedrale (1984) and Chartres, sources and literary interpretation : a critical bibliography (1989), van der Meulen devoted his career to the study of Chartres. His methodological approach to the cathedral entailed exhaustive re-measurement and photographic documentation of the structure and its elaboration.
The key role of photography in van der Meulen's research methodology tied in directly with his background. From 1953 to 1955 van der Meulen had worked as a professional photographer for Het Lichtbeelden Instituut in Amsterdam. The Chartres Cathedral photographic archive is the product of van der Meulen's combining of his training as an architect, an art historian, and a photographer.

Administrative Information


Open for use by qualified researchers, with the exception of the original slides and negatives. For further information, consult the Guide to the Photo Archive and Database .

Publication Rights

Photographs and permission to publish must be obtained from copyright holder(s). For further information, contact Library Reproductions and Permissions .

Preferred Citation

Jan van der Meulen photographs of Chartres Cathedral, circa 1950-1990, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 90.P.6

Acquisition Information

Acquired in 1990.

Processing History

Jan Bender created the collection inventory in 2013 and Ann Harrison completed the finding aid.

Scope and Content of Collection

The archive consists of photographs and slides documenting Chartres Cathedral and related buildings of the 12th and 13th centuries taken by architect and art historian Jan van der Meulen and an assistant over the course of many campaigns, mostly between 1959 and 1983.
Over 21,000 black-and-white catalogue prints and their negatives recording Chartres Cathedral form the bulk of the collection. These photographs provide systematic and detailed documentation of the architecture and sculptural decoration of the cathedral, especially the three sculptured portals, as well as comparative photographs of motifs from other French and German churches related to Chartres. A further 11,500 catalogue prints with negatives document rural churches in the Aisne and Oise regions, sources for the stylistic developments seen at Chartres.
Van der Meulen recorded the stained glass windows of Chartres, as well as the architecture and sculpture. Over 2300 35 mm. slides taken by van der Meulen document the entire clerestory and lower panels with the exception of the northern side aisle. Each panel of the clerestory was photographed twice with a 400 mm. lens from the opposite triforium, one darker exposure to reproduce the true color value and one additional, slightly overexposed slide to assure that all the inner details and fold-lines would be clearly visible.
In addition to the photographs taken by van der Meulen, the collection contains supplementary research material in the form of copy photographs. There are almost 500 nineteenth-century photographs of Chartres Cathedral (modern prints from original glass plate negatives) taken by photographers such as Eugène Lefèvre-Pontalis, Henri Le Secq, Photographie Giraudon, and Neurdein Frères. Further copy photographs, as well as drawings and photocopies, reproduce archival materials on Chartres housed in various repositories, including written documents, ground plans and other architectural drawings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Jan van der Meulen's original organization of his photographs with groups of materials designated by Roman numerals has been generally maintained: I (pt.1). Chartres Cathedral; I (pt.2). Churches related to Chartres Cathedral; II. Chartres Cathedral portal details; III. Stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral; IV. Rural churches of Aisne and Oise. The copy photographs of supplemental material follow van der Meulen's original work and retain his organization into "notebooks."

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Names

Meulen, Jan van der -- Photograph collections

Subjects - Corporate Bodies

Cathédrale de Chartres

Subjects - Topics

Architecture, Gothic--France
Church architecture--France--Aisne
Church architecture--France--Oise
Glass painting and staining--France--Chartres

Genres and Forms of Material

Black-and-white prints (photographs)
Negatives (photographic)


Le Secq, Henri
Lefèvre-Pontalis, Eugène-Amédée, 1862-1923
Neurdein frères
Photographie Giraudon

Container List


Chartres Cathedral photographs


Chartres Cathedral

Box 15

Plans and documents

Box 15

Distant views


Exterior views

Box 15

Organized by building location

Box 15-16

Organized by decorative or structural divisions

Box 16

Additions and attendant structures

Box 16

Non-Gothic structures / elements

Box 16

Thematic divisions


Interior views

Box 27

Organized by building location

Box 28

Organized by decorative or structural divisions


Churches and monuments related to Chartres Cathedral



Box 29-30

Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris

Box 31

Agonac to Compiègne

Box 32

Conflans-Sainte-Honorine to Mantes

Box 33

Marmoutier to Senlis

Box 34

Sens to Villeneuve-l'Archevéque

Box 35

Germany: Aachen to Trier

Box 35

Israel: Nazareth


Chartres Cathedral portal details

Box 16-19

West facade

Box 19-22

North transept

Box 22-27

South transept


Stained glass

Scope and Content Note

Images are arranged following the numbering set out in Delaporte, Les vitraux de la cathédrale de Chartres (1926).

Cibachrome prints made as use copies by the Getty Research Institute

Box 1, Folder 1

Delaporte schematics

Box 1, Folder 2

1-3: West facade windows

Box 1-2

4-9: Nave windows, south

Box 2, Folder 3

10-11: South transept windows

Box 2-3

13-21: Choir windows, south

Box 3-4

22-33: Apse windows, southeast

Box 5, Folder 1

34: Apse windows, east

Box 5-6

35-46: Apse windows, northeast

Box 6, Folder 4-6

47-55: Choir windows, north

Box 6, Folder 7

57-58: North transept windows

Box 7, Folder 1-5

59-64: Nave windows, north

Box 8, Folder 1-7

65-85: Nave clerestory windows, south

Box 9, Folder 1-3

86-94: South transept clerestory windows, west

Box 9, Folder 4-5

95: South transept clerestory windows, south

Box 10, Folder 1-3

96-104: South transept clerestory windows, east

Box 10, Folder 4-7

105-116: Choir clerestory windows, south

Box 11, Folder 1

117-123: Apse clerestory windows

Box 11, Folder 2-5

124-135: Choir clerestory windows, north

Box 11-12

136-144: North transept clerestory windows, east

Box 12, Folder 2-3

145: North transept clerestory windows, north

Box 12-13

146-154: North transept clerestory windows, west

Box 13-14

155-175: Nave clerestory windows, north

Box 14, Folder 5

176: West rose window

Box 62-66

Original slides

Scope and Content Note

Access restricted for conservation reasons.

Rural churches in the departments of Aisne and Oise

Box 36

Amblény to Brény

Box 37

Breuil-le-Vert to Cambronne-les-Ribecourt

Box 38

Cerny-les-Bucy to Cuise-la-Motte

Box 39

Dhuizel to Jouaignes

Box 40

Longpoint to Mont-Devant-Sassey

Box 41

Morienval to Presles-et-Thierny

Box 42

Quesmy to Saint-Vaast-de-Longmont

Box 43

Saint-Vaast-les-Mello to Vasseny

Box 44

Vic-sur-Aisne to Vorges


Supplemental research photographs

Box 45, Folder 1-2

Notebook 201a : plans and exterior views


Notebook 201b

Box 45, Folder 3

Adjacent buildings

Box 45, Folder 4

Excavation plans

Box 45, Folder 5

Model at Denver Art Museum

Box 45, Folder 6

Cathedral plan

Box 45, Folder 7

Profile detail blueprints

Box 45, Folder 8

Notebook 201c : Exterior views, Giraudon


Notebook 205a

Box 45, Folder 9

West portal views, Lefèvre-Pontalis

Box 45, Folder 10

General views, Le Secq


Notebook 206a

Box 45, Folder 11

Elevations and plans, Lassus

Box 45, Folder 12

West facade and portal views

Box 45, Folder 13

North portal views, Giraudon

Box 45, Folder 14

Northwest tower views

Box 45, Folder 15

Southwest tower views

Box 45, Folder 16

East end, drawings

Box 45, Folder 17

Adjacent buildings

Box 45, Folder 18

Creation iconography on portals

Box 46, Folder 1-26

Crypt interior views

Box 47, Folder 1-3

Crypt exterior views

Box 47, Folder 4

North portal views, Viollet

Box 47, Folder 5

The year 1200 symposium


Notebook 206b

Box 47, Folder 6

Contents list of Le Secq photographs

Box 47, Folder 7

Chapel of Saint Piat, exterior views

Box 47, Folder 8

Sacristy, exterior views


Commercial views

Box 48, Folder 1

Distant views, Neurdein


North portal views

Box 48, Folder 2

Caisse Nationale

Box 48, Folder 3


Box 48, Folder 4


Box 48, Folder 5

Royal portal views, Neurdein


South portal views

Box 48, Folder 6

Neurdein undated

Box 48, Folder 7

Viollet undated

Box 48, Folder 8

Choir screen views, Neurdein

Box 48, Folder 9

Altar view

Box 48, Folder 10

Clock tower and Hotel Dieu gate views, Neurdein

Box 49-61


Scope and Content Note

Access restricted for conservation reasons.