West Portal, Senlis Cathedral (Cathedral of Notre Dame)

c. 1170



The cathedral at Senlis, dedicated to the Virgin, has one of the earliest (if not the earliest) monumental sculptural representations of her triumph. She is enthroned in Heaven with Christ in the tympanum while her death and assumption are depicted in the lintels. See also this theme at Chartres, North Portal, at Strasbourg, South Transept and at Notre Dame in Paris.
 
Marilyn Stokstad points out that this tympanum illustrates a new kind of space consciousness, quite different from Romanesque architectural sculpture. Here the architecture--an arcade with several openings, is clearly defined and "the artist has carefully depicted the relationship of architecture and figures: the angels are within the arch; their wings overlap it" (282).

Tympanum with Dormition, Assumption, and Coronation of the Virgin

 

Detail of the Coronation and the lintel with the Virgin's Assumption

Right: Angels prepare to transport the Virgin to Heaven.
 

The Voussoirs and the Lap of Abraham

The Tree of Jesse winds around the voussoirs while the Lap of Abraham finds a place as well. For this common motif, see also Chartres, South Transept and Notre Dame in Paris.
 

Prophets and Precursors on the left side of the central portal

From right to left--the chronological sequence as well: Abraham with Isaac, Moses, Samuel, John the Baptist
 

Details of the jamb statues on the left side of the central portal

 

Prophets and Precursors on the right side of the central portal

From right to left--the chronological sequence as well: David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Simeon. Just as Isaac on the left side of the portal prefigures Christ's sacrifice, so too does the child Jesus in Simeon's arms.
 

Details of the jamb statues on the right side of the central portal



Work Cited: Stokstad, Marilyn. Medieval Art. New York: Harper and Row, 1986.


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