The north transept portal of Notre-Dame

  • north transept
    The tympanum without the scaffold (Image: Wikimedia).
  • IMG_0032
    The presentation in the temple
  • IMG_0011a
    A deamon whispering in Herod’s ear
  • IMG_0025
    Herod sending his orders
  • IMG_0007
    Herod's soldiers
  • IMG_0035
    The massacre of the innocents
  • IMG_0015
    Herod's soldiers
  • IMG_0037
    Death of an innocent
  • The flight from egypt
    The flight from egypt
  • DSC_1369
    Mary and Joseph
  • IMG_0014
    Christ in his mother's arms
  • DSC_1371edit
    Detail of the donkey
  • IMG_0021a
    Theophilus makes his pact with the Devil (the Jewish magician stands behind him)
  • devil's lower half
    The Devil's lower half
  • the Devil's backside
    The Devil's backside
  • IMG_0019
    Theophilus is once again wealthy
  • IMG_0017a
    A devil giving money to the newly wealthy Theophilus
  • IMG_0002
    Theophilus prays to the Virgin
  • IMG_0002
    Theophilus prays to the Virgin
  • IMG_0012
    Theophilus praying
  • IMG_0003
    The Virgin taking the contract from the Devil
  • DSC_1339edit
    The Bishop shows Theophilus's contract to his flock
  • IMG_0013a
    The Devil thwarted
  • contract
    Theophilus's contract held by the bishop
  • DSC_1353a
    An Angel from the Archivolts
  • DSC_1353
    An Angel in the Archivolts
  • IMG_0027
    The Virgin on the Trumeau
  • IMG_0038
    Traces of Polychromy on the robes of the Virgin on the Trumeau

A scaffold had recently been placed before the north transept portal of Notre-Dame de Paris. This is so that it can closely studied for an ongoing project undertaken by researchers at the University of Bamberg (entitled Mittelalterliche Portale als Orte der Transformation). The fellows at the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte working on the project ‘The Middle Ages and its Image’ were invited onto the scaffold so that we could inspect the images at close-hand. And so we did, on the eighth of April 2016.

The images below were taken on that day by Lukas Huppertz, Stephanie Luther and Martin Schwarz, fellows of the DFK. They are images of the sculptures on the tympanum, archivolts and trumeau, all carved around 1250.

The typanum is split into three levels. The lowest level narrates scenes from the infancy of Christ: his birth, the presentation in the temple, the massacre of the innocents and then the flight from Egypt. The upper two levels narrate a less well-known tale, the apocryphal story of Theophilus from Jacob de Voraigne’s The Golden Legend. According to the story, Theophilus was an administrator to the Bishop of Adana in Cicilia, an area that is now southern Turkey. However, an incoming bishop dismissed him from his post. Theophilus did not take this news well. With the help of a Jewish magician, he arranged to meet the devil, to whom he pledged himself with a contract written in his own blood. Although he was reinstated to his position, Theophilus inevitably regretted this pledge later in his life. He prayed for help from the Virgin, who obliged by taking the contract from the devil after threatening him with a sword. His soul saved, Theophilus died peacefully a few days later.

This story can be seen in the central tier of the typanum. On the uppermost tier above these scenes is the Bishop of Adana who explains the story to his enraptured flock by showing them Theophilus’s contract.

The juxtaposition of the Theophilus story with scenes from Christ’s infancy may seem peculiar. But there is a running theme between them: deliverance through the Virgin. Although Herod sends his soldiers to kill all the boys younger than two years old in Bethlehem, the Christ child escapes, held in his mother’s arms. Despite the fact that Theophilus is a very different character to Christ, he too finds himself defenseless, requiring the Virgin’s love and protection.

We hope you enjoy the photos. They reveal charming details from these scenes that either cannot be seen from ground level, or can but only with great difficulty. A particular favourite of ours was the donkey-shoe below the donkey’s hoof.

Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
Andrew Murray (2016, 19. April). The north transept portal of Notre-Dame. Atelier des Petits Champs. Abgerufen am 17. Juni 2024, von

Das könnte dich auch interessieren …

Eine Antwort

  1. Thank you for these images!!!!! Been to Notre Dame many times but not with binoculars

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert

Diese Website verwendet Akismet, um Spam zu reduzieren. Erfahre mehr darüber, wie deine Kommentardaten verarbeitet werden.

Suche in OpenEdition Search

Sie werden weitergeleitet zur OpenEdition Search