Chartres Cathedral, South Transept, Jamb Statues and East (Right) Portal Tympanum

1205-1240



On both sides of the central portal, images of the Apostles are arranged--six on each side, although the outer statues hug the buttresses between the portals. While the Apostles in some versions of the Last Judgment would have appeared on the tympanum proper (as well as the twenty-four Elders and beasts of the Apocalypse which are also missing), here they appear rather monotonously similar as large jamb statues. They stand over representations of their earthly adversaries. Peter Kidson explains that "all the suffering that was inflicted upon the apostles failed utterly to impede their divine mission. Their victory over death at once insured and foreshadowed the ultimate victory of the church. By endowing them with the attributes of martyrs the sculptors of Chartres turned the apostles of the Apocalyse into archetypes of all the martyrs and confessors who were to become the heroes of the church, an idea which they amplified in the two supporting portals. In this way they transformed the Vision of St. John into a vision of the Church Triumphant" (206).

Central Portal Jambs, left side

From right to left: St Peter with the keys and cross on which he was martyred; St. Andrew, also with a martyr's cross; St. Thomas and then St. Philip, both with swords, symbols of their martyrdom and standing over pagan kings responsible for their deaths; St. Matthew, also standing over an evil pagan
 

Central Portal Jambs, right side

From left to right: St. Paul, standing over the emperor Nero; St. John the Divine holding a book; St. James the Greater over Herod Agrippa; St. James the Lesser, holding the club with which he was beaten to death; St. Bartholomew
 

Details of St. Paul, the beardless St. John the Divine, and St. James the Greater

The last carries a pilgrim's pouch with scallop shells, a symbol worn by pilgrims who journeyed to his shrine at Santiago de Compostela.
 
The right (East) portal tympanum of the South Transept depicts scenes from the lives of two confessors, St. Martin and St. Nicholas, illustrating their good deeds or acts of mercy. On the left bottom a famous legendary scene is depicted: St. Martin as a soldier on horseback cutting in half his military cloak to share it with a poor shivering beggar. Above, St. Martin dreams that Christ came to him, wearing the piece of cloak he had given away. On the right bottom Nicholas, the guardian of virgins and prototype of Father Christmas, is portrayed helping a poor nobleman whose three daughters were threatened with prostitution. According to the legend, the saint threw bags of gold through the nobleman's window on three successive nights to provide a dowry for each of the daughters. Above this scene Nicholas as a bishop in effigy performs miracles even after his death--the sick are healed by the oil and water that flowed from his tomb.

The East (right) Portal Tympanum; details of St. Nicholas saving the three virgin daughters

 

Detail of the jambs of the right portal (Confessors Portal)

St. Jerome and St. Avit (added after 1224)



Return to the South Transept, Central Portal

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

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


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