Chartres Cathedral, West Front, South Portal--page 2

begun 1145; burned in 1194 except for the west front; rebuilt 1205-1220

The South Portal (right portal) is called alternately the Doorway of the Virgin, or the Doorway of the Childhood of Christ, or the Incarnation Door. This is one of the first in a long line of portals depicting the Enthroned Virgin (and the cathedral is in fact dedicated to her). Still, it has been argued that the emphasis is on the Incarnation, the coming of Christ into the world; thus the three portals are unified thematically with Christ's entry into the world, his leaving (the North Portal depicting the Resurrection)--crucial events in the Christian view of time--and the end of time in the Central Portal. The upper lintel depicts the Presentation in the Temple and the lower, the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Nativity.

In both lintels Jesus is elevated, as if on an altar, emphasizing the sacramental theme. The lack of detail in settings may also underline the theological meaning.


Voussoirs with the Liberal Arts

The Seven Liberal Arts are represented by women whereas the bearded men below them represent the classical authority (for example, Pythagorus for Music, since music in the middle ages was thought to have a mathematical basis, and for Grammar, Donatus, the author of an influential book on grammar). Secular learning, on the periphery and still dependent on Divine Wisdom, is important enough to frame a theological tympanum.

The Personifications of Music and Grammar

From the west facade, see also central portal, the north portal, the frieze of capitals, and the jambs.

From the South Transept, see also South Transept and Central Portal and jamb statues and side tympanum.

From the North Transept, see also central portal tympanum and jambs and the tympana of the side portals.

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