West Facade, North Portal--Tympanum: The Childhood of Jesus and jamb statues: Virtues Vanquishing Vices, Strasbourg Cathedral

Gothic (end of 13th century)

The doorways of the western (main facade) are richly carved. The life of Christ--His childhood and His Passion--and the Last Judgment are depicted in the three tympana. (Sorry--the central doorway was behind scaffolding when I was there.) The north portal (left) tympanum depicts on the bottom register the Magi before Herod and the Adoration of the Magi; on the middle register the Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt are seen; the top register illustrates the Presentation in the Temple.

The North Portal Tympanum: The Childhood of Jesus; detail of the Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt


The jamb statues: Virtues Vanquishing the Vices

In Gothic sculpture a Virtue, usually depicted as a female figure, tramples a Vice (human or animal) beneath her feet. Here there seem to be eight Virtues, perhaps for symmetry, although more usually there are seven--the three "theological" virtues (faith, hope and charity [from I Corinthians 13:13]) and the four "cardinal" virtues (justice, fortitude, prudence, and temperance [derived from Classical sources]).


See also South Transept sculptures: Church and Synagogue / South Transept: The Dormition and Coronation of the Virgin, portal tympana, and Solomon / Western Facade, South Portal: Last Judgment, tympanum, and the Wise and Foolish Virgins, jamb statues.

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