Alexey Steele

Alexey Steele

Rose Garden at Notre Dame Cathedral

  • Oil on canvas
  • 12" x 9", artwork
  • Contemporary

Private Collection
Courtesy of American Legacy Fine Arts

Artist Statement
"The garden behind Notre Dame is one of my favorite spots in Paris or anywhere in the world at that matter.

In this truly magical place on the South Eastern tip of Island of Paris, the stillness of time is felt with particular clarity. It is surprisingly quiet here. This is where Paris started. The temple of Jupiter stood here before Notre Dame. The crowds of tourists in front of the spectacular in its monumental force Western entrance and even the traffic on La rue du Cloître-Notre-Dame fade somehow away here at the liturgical east end of the cathedral on the Square Jean XXIII.

The east chapel at the apex of apse gives south east light exposure to glorious stain-glass windows. The curve of the apse topped with rising exedra and framed by otherworldly flying buttresses with the bushes of somehow mysterious purple-blue roses in front has an ethereal and markedly different feel than the majestically imposing mass of the Western facade or the enormously vast and rhythmically unrelenting sides of the glorious structure where gargoyles intensely piercing somewhere into something which small mortals on the street below incapable of seeing.
The whole drama of a brilliant architectural narrative comes to its purpose at the East Garden, holding the promise of eternity. This is what I always felt here and what I just had to reflect on through my painting.
The study is my personal work and is always on my wall at the studio. On the fateful morning of April 15 after reading the morning news…looking at this painting was all I could do. When in a few frantic hours I read the report that fire is inside and ripping through the wood of the interior and my mind knew it was all over…I just could not fathom it. I could only uncontrollably cry. I was seeing someone remarkably close parish.
The average temperature of burning wood fire is 1200 to 1400 degrees F easily reaching 2500 degrees. The melting point of lead is about 600 degree F. Lead is framing each piece of uniquely colored thick glass holding the entire enormous, up to 40 feet in diameter, structures together. I knew this and also knew that with enormous weight of the glass even at 400 - 500 degrees lead will loose structural strength and start giving in, once it goes, its gone.
Then came the miracle. Not sure how accurate the midday report of interior fire was, but the great Paris firefighters made a gutsy and risky decision. Let the roof burn out. Give all resources to bringing down the temperature of the walls. The plan worked. Thank you, River Seine and noble Paris Fire Brigade.
And so all three majestic 13th century Rose Windows, the irreplaceable crown jewel of our collective humanity - SURVIVED!!"
—Alexey Steele


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Available Artwork by Alexey Steele