Relief Sculpture, West Front, Amiens Cathedral

1220-1288






Central Portal (The Portal of the Beau Dieu)

In the lintel of this portal, Christ divides the Saved from the Blessed. This kind of dichotomy continues in the quatrefoils below the jamb statues with vices and corresponding virtues placed one above the other.

Courage (a soldier with a lion on his shield) and Cowardice (a man running from a rabbit)

 

Hope and Lust; Charity (with a beggar receiving a cloak) and Greed (a woman placing bags of money in a chest)

 
Jamb statues of the four great prophets have bas-reliefs beneath them depicting scenes from their lives.

The Prophet Ezekiel

 

Right or South Portal (The Virgin Mary Portal)

The Flight into Egypt; The Magi with the star and the Magi's Dream

 

Jesus and the Doctors of the Law; The Return to Nazareth

 

Left Portal or North Portal (St. Firmin's Portal)

This portal is dedicated to Saint Firmin, the first bishop of Amiens, and other local saints. Below the jamb statues are signs of the zodiac and labors of the month.

A Labor of the month (work in the vineyards?); Leo

 
Many thanks to George McMichael for the source of the identification of the quatrefoil pictured on the right.
He points out that on pages 163 and 164 of Emile Male's The Gothic Image, Religious Art in France in the 13th Century (Harper Torchbook edition, 1958) the quatrefoil is identified as a representation of a passage (ii, 13 - 15) from the book of Zephaniah, the fourth from the last book of the Old Testament, describing the forthcoming destruction of the city of Nineveh.
Although Zephaniah refers to only to "beasts" and not to anything that might resemble a hedgehog, he does have birds in the "upper lintels" of the ruined city singing "in the windows." And the framework in the foil to the right perhaps displays the uncovered "cedar [frame]work" cited in Zephaniah ii, 14.

Decorative design and hedgehog




See also the architectural sculpture of the West front and details of the exterior of Amiens Cathedral.


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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. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.

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