Title of Work
West Facade, Capital Frieze- Life of the Virgin
Title of Image
Scenes 13 - 14
c. 1145
West Façade, Left Frieze, Life of Mary and Infancy of Christ, Left Side of Central Portal
From the right:
13: Visitation
(Luke 1:39-56, Protevangelium of James 12:1-3 )
The Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist) meet to rejoice in their pregnancies. Mary and Elizabeth stand, facing one another, though it is uncertain which figure is Mary and which is Elizabeth. Both have veils and halos.
14: The Nativity of Christ
(Luke 2:1-7, Matthew 1:25, Protevangelium of James 17:3-19:2; Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew 14:1-3; Habakkuk 3:2; Isaiah 1:3)
At right a female figure holds the head of the bed on which Mary lies. Another woman stands behind Mary's bed. This reflects the story of two midwives found in the Protevangelium of James. At center, Mary (no halo) lies on a bed. She holds the infant Christ (haloed, in swaddling clothes). Above him is one of the heads of the ox and the ass. (Houvet identified it as an ox (Houvet, p. 29).The Protevangelium of James mentions only the ass. This may be a reference to Old Testament verses thought to be prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah 1:3 says, "The ox knows his owner and the ass his maker's crib." There is a similar verse in Habakkuk. The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew also says that an ox and an ass worshiped the Christ Child in the manger.
At right, Joseph sits (no halo) wearing a cap, leaning on a staff. Heimann points out the placement of this scene on the pilaster between the central and northern portal emphasizes its importance and provides a visual counterpoint to the Last Supper on the pilaster between the central and south portal (Heimann, p. 79 and p. 84).
At right are figures from:
12: Annunciation to the Virgin.
At left are figures from:
15: The Annunciation to the Shepherds.
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 13 - 14