Architectural Sculpture, West Front, Amiens Cathedral


The West front

Because I did not photograph these two images, they cannot be clicked (or enlarged) and should not be copied.

Central Portal (The Portal of the Beau Dieu)

Images of Christ occurs in three places in the central portal of the West front: here as the resurrected Christ on the trumeau, as the judge in the middle lintel, and as the apocalyptic Christ at the top of the tympanum (the latter two not pictured). As the resurrected Christ, the so-called Beau Dieu, he has triumphed over evil, represented by the two beasts (lion and snake) under his feet. His left hand holds a book while the right hand is raised in blessing. He towers above those entering in the portal and stares off into the distance. Below Christ in an arch is a crowned figure, variously identified as King David or King Solomon.

The portal jambs have statues of the Apostles as well as the Wise and Foolish Virgins, types of the elect and damned, who continue the theme of the lintel above with Christ in judgment. (See also Wise and Foolish Virgins on the jambs of the Strasbourg Cathedral for additional explanation of this parable.)

Jambs with Peter (with his attribute, the key) and Andrew; Foolish Virgins (to Christ's left)


Right Portal (The Virgin Mary Portal)

The right or south portal is dedicated to Mary. On the trumeau this queen of Heaven stretches out her right hand to welcome celebrants. Jamb statues around her are all connected with her story, the tympanum (not pictured) depicts her death, Assumption, and Coronation, and quatrefoils beneath the jamb statues refer to events in her life as well as to Old Testament typological allusions to the Virgin birth. For other sculptural programs honoring the Virgin, see Chartres Cathedral, West Front, South Portal, Notre Dame, Central Portal at Senlis, Strasbourg, South Transept and Notre Dame in Paris.

The trumeau statue is of Mary holding the infant Jesus in her arms. She is crushing a snake with a woman's face. Above her head is the Ark of the Covenant. Here she is the crowned queen of Heaven.

The base of the trumeau

The plinth of Mary's trumeau, set with an angle toward the front, is decorated with scenes from the life of Adam and Eve--the creation of Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit, original sin, and the expulsion from the garden. The serpent who tempted Eve is figured in the beast Mary tramples on the trumeau; Mary symbolizes the new Eve, since as the Mother of God, she makes it possible for humans to escape the consequences of original sin.

Jamb statues: The Annunciation and the Visitation

See also the relief sculpture (quatrefoils) on the West Front and details of the exterior.

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© 2000 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

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