Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer M. Feltman was interviewed by UK-based New Scientist about the newly published discovery of iron ties in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The cathedral suffered a devastating fire in 2019, which revealed previously unknown structural elements, including iron ties or staples throughout the seven-hundred-year-old building. Since the fire, experts in a variety of fields have begun to study Notre Dame as they also renovate and rebuild it. A recent study of the structure discovered that it the first Gothic cathedral to use iron ties to hold together and reinforce its massive stone structure.
Commenting for the article as an expert not involved in the original study, Dr. Feltman noted that this innovative use of iron modernized Notre Dame, especially in comparison to other cathedrals built around the same time. “Compared to other cathedrals, such as Reims, the structure of Notre Dame in Paris is light and elegant,” Feltman told New Scientist. “This study confirms that use of iron made this lighter structure at Paris possible and thus the use of this material was crucial to the design of the first Gothic architect of Notre Dame.”
Feltman is a specialist of French Gothic architecture and sculpture, and a member of Chantier Scientifique de Notre Dame, the group of researchers officially authorized by the French Ministry of Culture – CNRS to study the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris as it is being restored. Her research addresses issues of the restoration of Gothic cathedrals, uses of virtual reality (VR) in cultural heritage and education, and the interpretation of imagery in stone sculpture of cathedrals.
She currently co-directs the project “Notre Dame in Color: Visualizing the Layered Polychromy of the Cathedral of Paris,” funded by the Transatlantic Research Partnership, a program of FACE Foundation and the French Embassy, as well as the UA Collaborative Arts Research Initiative, the UA Office of Research and Economic Development, and the French governmental organization in charge of the reconstruction, the Établissement public chargé pour la restauration de la Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris.
Feltman’s publications include The North Transept of Reims Cathedral: Design, Construction, and Visual Programs (Routledge 2016), The Long Lives of Medieval Art and Architecture (Routledge, 2019), and Moral Theology and the Cathedral: Sculptural Program of the Last Judgment in France, ca.1200-1240, (Brepols, forthcoming).
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