Title of Work
West Facade, Capital Frieze, Ministry and Passion of Christ
Title of Image
21:Elizabeth and John hiding and 22: Presentation in the Temple
c. 1145
West Façade, Right Frieze, Life of Christ, Right Side of Central Portal
From the left:
21: Elizabeth and John Hiding?
(Protevangelium of James 22:3, alternately, Luke 2:16-18 and Pseudo-Matthew 27-31)
Houvet says this scene is Christ in the midst of the Doctors (Luke 2:41-50, Pseudo-Matthew 27-31). Heimann identifies it as Elizabeth and John the Baptist hiding in a cave to escape the Massacre of the Innocents. This scene from the Protevangelium of James 22:3 was often shown in Byzantine art in this position within the narrative, but is rarely appears at all in the art of Western Europe (Heimann, pp. 81-2).
A woman stands holding the edge of her cloak in one hand. With the other, she holds the back of a chair in which sits a child: its feet do not touch the floor. The child’s head hangs forward.
Though Spitzer does not say so directly, the inclusion of this scene might be another instance of her contention about the emphasis on mothers and infants on the local cult of the Virgin (Spitzer, p 140). – JV
22: Presentation in the Temple
(Luke 2:21-23)
This scene takes up two capital faces. On the first, Mary and the priest Simeon face each other across a cloth-covered altar. Both are headless and do not seem to have halos. Their hands are also missing. Heimann suggests that the figure of the Christ Child was once suspended over the altar, though it is now missing as well. At right is another headless figure (perhaps the prophetess Anna or a woman holding an offering). Houvet believes this scene is the Circumcision (Houvet, p. 29). Nolan also identifies this first part of Heimann’s scene as the Circumcision, with the remainder constituting the Presentation in the Temple (p. 57, p. 68 n. 27).
On the next capital face stand two bearded men, one of whom holds a child; the other holds up an object (a dove?) in his cloth-covered hands. Compare his cap with those worn by several of the jamb figures and some of the figures on the right tympanum. At the far right are two smaller figures of women. Heimann suggests this continuation of the scene is "Joseph, carrying the Child and accompanied by four worshipers, arrives in a procession" (Heimann, p. 82-83). Heimann also suggests that the placement of the Presentation after the Massacre of the Innocents and the Hiding of Elizabeth and John is due to its order in Byzantine cycles (Heimann, p. 82); however, Nolan proposes that the principal reason for its location is to provide a typological relationship to the rejection in the temple of Joachim and Anne (pp. 60-61).
Compare with the whole scene on the Upper Lintel of the Right Portal and In Panels 11-2 of the Infancy window above the Royal Portal (Delaporte no. 2, Deremble-Mahnes no. 50.) All three representations date from before the fire of 1194.
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

21:Elizabeth and John hiding and 22: Presentation in the Temple