Posted 8 years ago
This card was collected by Septimus and Clara Miller in 1906 or early 1907. It shows the three western portals of Notre Dame Cathedral – magnificent examples of early Gothic Art. The three doorways date from the period between 1200 and 1240. They depict scenes from The life of the Virgin Mary, the Last Judgment and scenes from the life of St. Anne (the Virgin Mary's mother).
The first doorway completed was the one on the right devoted to St Anne. The tympanum ( the arch above the doors) is an earlier Romanesque work from the former St. Stephen's Cathedral, dating from about 1150. “It shows the Virgin and Child on a throne, accompanied by two censing angels, a bishop and his assistant, and a king. The upper lintel depicts scenes from the advent of Christ (Annunciation, Nativity, Magi, etc.) and the lower lintel tells the stories of Anne and Joachim and Mary and Joseph.”
Between the doors is a ‘trumeau’ – “a statue of Saint Marcel, a 5th-century bishop of Paris, who spears a dragon symbolizing the scourges with which his diocese was cursed. Statues of Peter, Paul, and biblical monarchs (all remade in the 19th century) are on the door jambs. The wooden doors have original 13th-century ironwork.”
On the left of the card is the the Portal of the Virgin, “dedicated to the patroness of the cathedral, is usually the exit door for modern visitors. It was sculpted second of the three portals in the 1210s-1220s. Unlike the other two west portals, it is surmounted by a gable.”
“The tympanum features the Coronation of the Virgin, with an angel crowning Mary while Christ blesses her and gives her a scepter. The top lintel depicts the Death of the Virgin - Mary lies on her death bed (corresponding to the Nativity bed in the same position on the right portal) surrounded by Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. Two angels at her head and feet lift up her up to Heaven. The bottom lintel has three Old Testament prophets (left) and three Old Testament kings (right), all holding scrolls representing prophecies of Christ.”
The central doorway was the last to be completed. “Its theme is the Last Judgment, with Christ emphasized less as judge and more as the suffering savior of humanity.”
“The archivolts are populated by the Heavenly Court (angels, patriarchs, kings, prophets). The door-jamb statues, destroyed at the Revolution and replaced in the 19th century, represent, from left to right: Emperor Constantine, an angel, Saint Denis holding his head, another angel, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve and Pope Saint Sylvester. On the trumeau is a standing statue of the Virgin and Child, with the pedestal below carved with scenes of the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve.”
“The abutments of the doors have panels representing the natural universe, or life on earth. The panels on either side of the portal are weathered but elegant Zodiacs and Labors of the Months. The positions of the months echo the yearly cycle of the sun: rising in the sky from January to June (left jamb), then descending from July to December (right jamb). Completing the symbolic medieval universe on the inside jambs are the seasons (left) and the ages of man (right).”
This is a postcard published by N.D. Phot No. 100: Neurdein et Cie (1860’s-1919) Paris, France.