Notre Dame Panels

Medieval French 

 replicas: from the Louvre, Paris

gift of: friends in memory of Professor David L. Farmer

date of the originals: c. thirteenth century AD 

provenance of the originals: panels in situ on Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris - located on the jamb of the Door of the Virgin (left door of facade)

description: Two relief panels. Plaster replicas; limestone originals.

Peasant Carrying a Bundle of Hay (top)

Height 78 cm, width 40 cm, depth 12.75 cm.

The original of this panel (and of the Mower panel, below) is situated on the Door of the Virgin on the west front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The jambs of the Door are composed of panels which represent the signs of the Zodiac and the Labours of the months of the year.

Although the Cathedral was begun in 1163, the portal of the Virgin was begun and finished between the years 1210 and 1220. The many bas reliefs on this door, like the two in the Museum, depict the natural universe as it was conceived at the time. Branches, leaves, flowers and fruits as well as the seasons and ages of man represent medieval life, all of which revolves around the central figure of the Virgin Mary.

The sculpture on the door exemplifies the flowering of Gothic art on the cathedral. It is no longer simply ornament, but enhances the appearance of the building.

This panel represents the month of June. The peasant wears a short tunic and carries a hay bale over his shoulder. The figure of the peasant is incised with great depth to give it simplicity and clarity; it has lost the rigidity characteristic of the preceding Romanesque period and has re-adopted some of the natural quality of the Classical.

Mower Sharpening his Scythe (bottom) 

Height 77 cm, width 40 cm, depth 11.5 cm.

The left jamb of the Door of the Virgin finishes at the top with the month of June. The right-hand jamb begins at the top with this representation of the Labour of the month of July.

The order of the months, the first six rising on the left jamb, the next six descending on the right, reflects the movement of the sun, rising in the heavens for the first six months, descending for the last six.

This peasant wears a mid-length tunic and, holding a scythe in his left hand, sharpens it with a stone in his right.

(See also: Gargoyle.)