Title of Work
West Facade, Capital Frieze- Life of the Virgin
Title of Image
Scenes 1 - 2
c. 1145
West Façade, Left Frieze, Life of Mary and Infancy of Christ, Left Side of Central Portal
Spitzer suggests the inclusion of the first three scenes, which emphasize the infertility of Joachim and Anne, exemplify the emotional nature and focus of the frieze and its connection to the local cult of Mary as a healer of mothers and infants. (Spitzer, pp. 137-8)
1: Joachim's and Anne's Offerings Refused by the Priest
(Protevangelium of James 1:1-3)
Joachim's and Anne's offerings were rejected because they were childless. This scene is made up of the three figures on the right. A priest (haloed) stands to the extreme right, holding up his hand to reject the lambs being held out by Joachim and Anne (also haloed). The priest wears what appear to be liturgical vestments.
In the Protevangelium of James, Joachim attempts to make his offering alone; Anne is not present (Ehrman, p. 248). Heimann notes that the inclusion of Anne in this scene and its overall composition are close to an illustration in the Vatican copy of the Homilies of the Greek monk Jacobus Kokkinobaphos believed to have been made in Constantinople (Heimann, p. 78). Spitzer suggests the inclusion of three scenes emphasizing the infertility of Joachim and Anne exemplify the emotional nature and focus of the frieze and its connection to the local cult of Mary as a healer of mothers and infants (Spitzer, pp. 137-38).
2: Joachim and Anne turn back
Most scholars describe this scene as Joachim and Anne turning back in distress after their offering was rejected, but Nolan suggests this is the Annunciation to Anne (p.57). This interpretation is questionable, as the figure to Anne's left is haloed but without wings, and Anne is still holding the small lamb (?) as in the previous temple scene. (PM & JV)
Joachim and Anne (both with decorated haloes) turn back after their offering was rejected at the temple because they are childless. Anne still holds the lamb she had taken to be offered. The placement of this scene on a corner, with Joachim facing one way and Anne facing another, emphasizes their isolation.
This scene is not present in the Protevangelium of James; Joachim goes to the temple alone and leaves for the wilderness without seeing Anne. Heimann notes that this scene is rare in the West; it is not present in either extant copy of the Homilies of the Greek monk Jacobus Kokkinobaphos, which she believes is the source for much of the rest of the frieze (Heimann, pp. 77-78). However, Lafontaine-Dosogne finds it in several eastern sources (Heimann, p. 78, n. 27).
At left are figures from:
3: An angel announces to Joachim that Mary would be born.
Type of Work
Subtype of Work
Capital Frieze
Cathédrale de Chartres--Pictorial works.;Church decoration and ornament--France--Chartres--Pictorial works.;Church architecture--France--Chartres--Pictorial works.;Christian art and symbolism--France--Chartres--Medieval, 500-1500--Pictorial works.
Philip Maye
MEDART Website

Chartres: Cathedral of Notre-Dame

Scenes 1 - 2