IT was, then, into such an already thrilling environment of narrow streets, picturesque churches, and monastic dwellings that Maurice de Sully, fired with the ambition to build for posterity, introduced his unrecorded architectwho erected the oldest existing parts of the great cathedral.
The plan which the bishop undertook to execute was scarcely inferior to what we see to-day, though most of it has been effaced, and it is only above the great arches of the choir and apse that the semi-Roman church of Maurice de Sully reveals itself in its original purity, while the door dedicated to Sainte-Anne, despite its adaptation to a later facade than that for which it was in-tended, is an eloquent relic of the original design and serves to tie together the story of the builders.
In those days the construction of such vast edifices as Notre-Dame was sometimes under-taken at the two extremities, so that the facade was often contemporary with the apse. The cathedral at Saint-Denis was thus undertaken (an inscription once marked the point where the two ends grew together) and this seems also to have been the case with Notre-Dame.
The first stone of the cathedral was laid in the reign of Louis le Jeune by Pope Alexander III during his exile in Paris, in 1163, and the building was so far advanced during the first nineteen years, that shortly after Philippe Auguste be-came king (in 1182) the high altar was consecrated, and three years later Heraclius, the patriarch of Jerusalem, come to Paris to preach the third crusade, officiated in the choir. Before the high altar Bishop Maurice had interred the bodies of Geoffrey Plantaganet, comte de Bretagne, son of Henry II of England, and Philippe Auguste’s queen, Isabelle de Hainaut.
Upon the death of this bishop, in 1196, the apse was finished and the nave well under way. His will provided a legacy of five thousand livres to make a lead roof to the choir.
Except for such fragmentary traces of Roman construction of which one has spoken, the monument, such as it stands, belongs to the first two periods of Gothic architecture, the lanceole of Philippe Auguste and the rayonnant of Louis mother of Christ. Then reigned Saint-Louis, and Renaud de Corbeil occupied the episcopal chair. It has been thought that from the second half of the XIIIth century,
The great western front, as it was reconceived by the successor to Maurice’s architect, was not begun until the end of the episcopacy of Pierre de Nemours (1208-1219). That the work went rapidly we know, for at about the time of the death of Philippe Auguste (1223) the great front was practically finished, while every aspect of the chef-d’oeuvre confirms the opinion that this superb portail was the conception of one mind carried through from the base of the elaborate entrances, lying closest to the eye, to the point where the severely simple towers begin to detach from the mass, under the enthusiasm of a single artistic impulse. And of the genius that conceived it we know, alas, nothing; but, says Victor Hugo: ” L’homme, l’artiste, l’individu s’eff ace sur ces grander masses sans nom d’auteur, l’intelligence humaine s’y resumeets’y totalise. Le temps est architect, le peuple est le macon.”
His successor, with less indifference to fame, inscribed in handsome letters upon the base of the southern portail of the transept his name and date. The legend reads that in 1257, on the second day of the ides of February, Master Jehan de Chelles commenced this work in honour of the mother of Christ. Then reigned Saint-Louis, and Renaud de Corbeil occupied the episcopal chair. It has been thought that from the second half of the Xlllth century, also, dates the arcade above the Virgin’s gallery of the older front, and that the north front, the Porte Rouge, of the ancient cloisters, and, within, the chapels each side of the transept are of the same epoch and perhaps by the same architect, since the style, the character of the sculpture, and even the stone are the same.
The side chapels of the nave were not included in the original planthe early cathedrals, Chartres, Rheims, Saint-Denis, etc., were not de-signed to carry chapels along the navebut Jean de Paris, archdeacon of Soissons, dying about 1270, left one hundred livres tournois for the construction of the lateral chapels, which seem all to be contemporaneous. The chapels of the apse were a little later, dating from the end of the XIIIth and beginning of the XIVth century. An inscription affixed to the pedestal of a monument to Bishop Simon Matiffas de Buci, formerly at the entrance to the chapel of Saint-Nicaise, relates that this chapel with the two following was founded by that prelate in 1296, and that afterward were made successively all the others around the choir. This inscription, so precious to archaeologists, lay for years forgotten in the cellars of Saint-Denis, where so many relics saved from the vandals of the Revolution were hastily housed.
Notre-Dame is in the form of a Latin cross, with two great blunt towers towards the west and a restored spire at the point of the inter-section of the branches of the cross. Impressive from all angles by the imposing vigour of its mass, it is the monumental facade, the western portail, which contains the most stirring message, representing, as one author has said, the XIIIth century in its most marvellous portrait.
Popular tradition relates that as it first appeared Notre-Dame stood upon an elevation above the Parvis and that its western face was preceded by a flight of thirteen stepsthe number is variously statedwhose masonry made for the cathedral an admirable base, and more than one writer has described in moving language the ” sea of Paris paving ” rising and devouring one after another the treads of its pedestal. That this was not the case was proven by the excavations made in 1847 about the base of the edifice when nothing was discovered to bear out the tale. M. Guilhermy, whose careful description of Notre-Dame was prepared in collaboration with Viollet-le-Duc, the architect of the restoration, thinks that it is probable that these steps, of which so many authors speak without having ever seen them, existed on the side of the south tower and that they descended towards the river.
The great portail divides into three parts in width and five in height, the horizontal line being strongly emphasized, as is characteristic of early Gothic, the five stories graduated with utmost taste and skill from the intricate elaboration of the three grand portals to the austerity of the square towers without spires.
Below, the three large Gothic doors, with their deep embrasures, pointed tympanums, columns, pillars, and piers all richly sculptured and peopled with symbolic and historic figures, make the first of the horizontal divisions. The statues on the niches formed by the buttresses between the doors and upon the ends are restored ; they represent Saint-Etienne to the north, Saint-Denis to the south, and, between, two women’s figures usually identified as personifying the Church and the Synagogue and readily distinguishablethe Church, proud and triumphant, holds her head erect with her eyes fixed upon Christthe Synagogue, humiliated and vanquished, her head dropped and her eyes bandaged. The Church, coiffed with a diadem, holds up the cross and the chalicethe Synagogue lets fall her crown, the tables of the law, and her broken standard. The subject is familiar to the student of Gothic churches and is found in glass and in stone at Chartres, Saint-Denis, Rheims, Bourges, Lyon, and many other churches of the XIIIth and XIVth centuries.
Ornate bands of sculptured leafage frame the lower picture and separate definitely the lower portion of the facade from the gallery of kings. This wide band of upright figures was demolished during the Revolution, for though the twenty-eight effigies were supposed to represent the kings of Israel and Judea, and as ancestors of the Virgin sacred personages, tradition said that they were portraits as well of the early kings of France, which made them the legitimate prey of the Revolutionists, and so they were torn from their niches and destroyed. These effigies were restored under Viollet-le-Duc.
Above the band of kings extends the Virgin’s Gallery, a wider plane bordered at the top by a rich band of leaf moulding, which makes the finish of this earliest portion of the facade. It divides definitely into the three parts indicated by the three doors of the ground floor, and the towers with the space between of the upper stories. Here are five sculptured figures (restored)in the centre a group composed of the Virgin, carrying the Infant, flanked by two an-gels holding candlesticks, to the left Adam and to the right Eve. The restorations are by Dechaume, Chenillon, and Fromanger. At the time of the mutilation of the cathedral and buildings in general, a small sane minority stood out for the preservation of works of art, and a provisional museum was installed in the convent of the Petits-Augustins as an asylum for rescued statues and monuments. The original figure of Adam, a work of the XIVth century, was amongst the rescued, and though badly mutilated, still exists, in the storerooms at Saint-Denis. The figure is entirely nude and of curious workmanship.
Behind the group of the Virgin and angels the simple tracery of the early Gothic rose occupies the centre of this story, building up from the wide Porte du Jugement, its gorgeous colouring illuminating all the front part of the nave. This central window is balanced by groups at the sides consisting of smaller blind roses in stone held in the opening between pairs of double-pointed windows, which carry the composition of the lateral entrances. Large, ornamental trefoils in stone fill the corner spaces of these. divisions.
We now come to the end of the work of that mysterious early architect, whose name has not come down to us, for here, in the slender arcade of pointed arches, in elaborate and beautiful carving, archeologists see a new beginning, dating from about the time that Jehan de Chelles commenced the south front. It is at this story that the two massive towers begin to disengage themselves from the general mass of the facade, the break being skilfully veiled by this exquisite arcature, which, suspended between the towers in a double file, continues around their four sides, tying them together by a delicate tracery of elegant lines, and at the same time screening the abruptness of their detachment. Where the arcature encounters a buttress, the columns and pointed arches are no longer disengaged but lie close upon the stone.
A balustrade cut in open quatrefoils binds the top of the arches, and it is upon this balustrade that perch the replicas of those celebrated birds, demons, and monsters that legend has made so famous. Many of the originals in falling had left their claws gripped to the parapet.
A slight difference. in the width of the towers reveals itself upon attentive observation, giving them a rather interesting irregularity. Such unimportant inequalities are not uncommon; whether the result of accident or design in this case is not known. Many things may have decided this difference. The towers, which are of equal height, at first appear identical, but looking closely one sees that the south tower is perceptibly more slender than its companion; the difference shows not only in the entire bulk but in the width of the pairs of pointed windows, and is more definitely stated in the gallery of the kings, where the space between the buttresses below the north tower accommodates eight of the effigies while the corresponding space below the south tower is filled by seven.
The Revolutionists destroyed,’ as we have seen, the gallery of kings and tore from the doors and niches every symbol of royalty, meanwhile respecting the sacred personages of the archivolts and tympanums. Now an act of the municipal council, issued in the month Brumaire, An. 2, condemned also the saints. The very portail itself trembled upon its foundations; but these were droll. times, and the quickest wit triumphed.
In the face of so much opposition, worked valiantly a secret band of friends of the beautiful, and those who stood for the preservation of the statues resorted to clever artifices to obtain their ends.
Since it was useless to appeal to the old faith of the populace (” reason ” having taken the place of religious belief and sentiment) scientific arguments were urged, and the citizen Chaumette, the chief magistrate of the Commune, got the ears of his fanatical colleagues by telling them that the astronomer Dupuis had found his planetary system in one of the lateral doors of the cathedral.
Their ignorance was as prodigious as their hate was strong and without stopping to question the probability of this statement, Dupuis was clapped upon the committee for the administration of public works, with power to save the monuments worthy to be known to posterity. His intervention saved what was left. Chaumette was guillotined within the year.
Since the outbreak of ” our ” war the ascent to the towers has been forbidden, and at present writing the little door in the north tower has a forbidding aspect as though permanently closed. But as life resumes its normal routine no doubt the revenue coming in from visitors to the towers if not less material considerations will restore the ancient privilege. Not only is the view of Paris well worth the mount, but the impression to be gained of the colossal proportions of the building itself by a walk through the towers, the terraces, and galleries is not to be missed. In the upper stories are vast vaulted chambers, and in each tower at the height of the Virgin’s gallery is an immense room, where light pouring through the double-pointed windows, seems to magnify the forms of the architecture. In a corner of each of these rooms is a remarkable stairway, walled up in a tower of stone, pierced by narrow slits of light.
The bells had formerly a great reputation; there were seven in the north tower and six in the central tower of the transept, while the two largest, called the bourdons of Notre-Dame, were placed in the south tower. The name of course is derived from the great resonance of such bells, whose quality resembles the droning of a bumble-bee.
The smaller of the two bourdons was destroyed but Notre-Dame preserves the larger and more harmonious. It weighs thirty-two milliers. A long Latin inscription tells its history in relief on the metal. The bell was a gift of Jean de Montaigu (brother of Gerard, a bishop of Paris), in 1400, and was called by him Jacqueline after his wife, Jacqueline de La Grange. Recast in 1686 the bell was rebaptised Emmanuel-Louise-Therese d’Autriche, in honour of Louis XIV and Marie-Therese of Austria, the original quantity of metal being more than doubled by the chapter.
Though to the architects of the restoration it was evident that the cathedral had been designed and prepared to carry steeples of stone upon its towers, Viollet-le-Due and his collaborator decided against the addition, thinking that the edifice would gain nothing by completing a design which its builders had left unachieved. As Guilhermy points out in his treatise upon the building, nothing in the construction showed that means lacked to carry the work to completion, and if the architect of the XIIIth century stopped at the spires, it is likely that he himself condemned his first project.
Between the towers is a large reservoir containing water for immediate use in case of fire.
Behind the arcature, between the towers, rises the gable of the nave, upon whose point stands the figure of an angel, sounding the trumpet, which is contemporary with the facade, its sheltered position having preserved it from all harm. Standing far enough back from the edifice one can see the angel upon the point of the gable; and beyond, rising from the intersection of the cross, the foliated fleche, of wood covered. by lead, (a restoration by Viollet-le-Duc) may be seen between the towers, giving the aerial line which relieves the monotony of the horizontals:
There are six doors to the cathedral, including the little Porte Rouge of the cloisters, the smallest but by no means the least interesting. The great central door is called the Porte du Jugement, that beneath the north tower the Porte de la Vierge, that under the south tower the Porte Sainte-Anne. The Porte Saint-Etienne is the entrance to the southern facade; the Porte du Cloitre and the Porte Rouge open upon the Rue des Cloitres Notre Dame. Upon these doors and their embrasures we find the whole story of religion, with its facts, its myths, its legends, its superstitions. In order to appreciate the spirit of the embellishment, one must put one’s self back many centuries, one must remember the mission of a cathedral in ancient times.
The cathedral was the great popular movement of the Middle Ages ; it was not only a place of prayer and the House of God, but the centre of the intellectual movement, the repository of all the traditions of art and of human consciousness.
What we place in museums they confided to the church. Guillaume Durand, in his Rationale des Divins Offices, says that in several churches they suspended ostrich eggs and other rare and remarkable objects in order that people should be attracted to church. In the cathedrals of Laon, Rheims, Bayeux, Comminges, Saint-Denis, Saint-Beryin, and in the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, etc., were preserved skeletons of whales, stuffed crocodiles, horns of unicorns, claws of griffins, cameos, and antique vases. What we seek in books the populace of the Middle Ages read in living characters on the embrasures of doors, or in the glass of windowsit all comes back to that first mission of art, which was religious instruction. And that explains why side by side with religious scenes we find so many homely secular subjects, the whole forming an encyclopaedia of knowledge adapted to all and read by all.
The Porte du Jugement deals, as its name implies, with the second advent of Christ. From the point of view of the religious terror, the emotional keynote of the entire portail, this door is perhaps the most eloquent of the six, and will reward the closest studythough the consensus of opinion awards the palm of pure beauty to the Porte de la Vierge, and to the writer the Porte Sainte-Anne is by far the most interesting.
The artist’s conception of the Day of Judgment is simple and naive. The Christ against the central pillar (all restored) is represented as he was in mortal life, holding the Book of Life. At his sides range the twelve apostles accompanied by the virtues which lead to Paradise and the vices which lead to Hell.
Above, in the lower zone of the tympanum sits, in glory, the Son of God, and around him appear ranged after the rules of the mysterious hierarchy, the angels and the powers of Heaven, the glorious troop of the prophets, and the white army of martyrs. Doctors and virgins complete the divine cortege. Under the feet of the Judge humanity rises from the dead at the sound of the trumpet. To the right hand of Christ the elect, guided by angels, take possession of the kingdom prepared for them, while to his left the rejected, conducted by devils, fall into the flames. The whole allegory is carried out in the immense detail of the deep soffit, or voussoir, restored after ancient documents and meriting long study.
The pier, the Christ upon the pier, and the lower zone of the tympanum are restored, having been torn outnot by the Revolutionists, but by one of the most famous architects of the XVIIIth century, with the consent and concurrence of the chapter. We must know that the enemies of religion were not the only ones to lay violent hands upon the ancient beauty of the cathedral, but that the piety, which, at great expense, pre-tended to rejuvenate the edifice for the more practical service of the cult, did perhaps the more insidious mischief.
Until the XVIIIth century the ancient form of the church seems to have been respected, but Louis XIII, actuated no doubt as much by vanity as by piety, began a series of mutilations and changes which have gone on until this day. The damage which he instigated affected the interior, but disastrous as it was, it was slight as compared to the profanation of the central portal undertaken by Soufflot at the demand of the ecclesiastical authorities.
Each of the doors of Notre-Dame is divided into two valves by a pier standing in the middle bearing an upright figure. The idea was, in 1771, when the alterations were made, that processions and ceremonies were impeded by this pillar, which obstructed the doorway, itself, also, become too low to admit of effective entrance. Accordingly Soufflot tore out the pier, with its statue of Christ, and the pedestal covered with curious reliefs. To raise the arch of the new door the whole of the lower part of the tympanum was gashed out, without respect for the beautiful sculpture of the Last Judgment.
Geoffrey Dechaume, one of the ablest of the sculptors who worked under Viollet-le-Duc, re-stored the Christ of the central pillar, upon the models existing at Amiens and Rheims, and restored the second panel of the tympanum, which contains some of the original sculpture. The lower zone was replaced by Toussaint and is entirely modern.
The third panel of the tympanum remains intact. Christ as the Judge sits on the tribunal, with the earth as his footstool. Two angels stand at his sides, showing the instruments of his Passion, and a little behind these the Virgin and John, the Evangelist, kneel with hands joined imploring pity for sinners. The Virgin wears her crown, veil, robe, and mantle. Saint John is represented according to the tradition of the Latin church, as a youth, without a beard, wearing a long robe, and his feet bare. This group of five figures fills the point of the tympanum and is considered one of the chef -d’oeuvres of the XIIIth century.
The voussoir of this door, in six choirs of figures, is one of the most important and beautiful now existing. To the right of Christ are the angels, the archangels, and the saints, while to the left, Satan and the devils. The demonology of Notre-Dame has seemingly exhausted the singular imagination of its creators.
In certain lights and at a proper distance one can still quite clearly get the impression of the gold leaf and colour which once added charm to the doors, for we know that all this sculpture was once painted and gilded. Standing alongside the statue of Charlemagne, in the Parvis, the central tympanum still shows the warmth and glow of the effaced decoration.
The Porte de la Vierge is considered the most beautiful of the entrances to the cathedral. Viollet-le-Duc describes it as a poem in stone. (” Cette porte est tout un poeme en pierre.”) Upon the central pier of the door is a statue of the Virgin, not the originalthat was sent to Saint-Denisbut another of the XVth century, taken from the old church of Saint-Aignan and added to the door in 1818. It is dry and mannered and cold, and one sees at once that it is out of sympathy with the rest of the sculpture here. The pedestal has also lost its original reliefs and what we see is restoration.
The Virgin holds in her arms the Redeemer, and tramples under foot the serpent, with a woman’s head and wings, whose tail is curled around the trunk of the tree of knowledge. Adam and Eve stand one on each side of the tree, tempted by the serpent; on the left side of the pedestal is carved the creation of Eve and on the right the dismissal from Paradise. This sculpture forms the ornate base to the statue, while above the head of the Virgin is a dais, supported by two angels with censers. Over the dais is a little building covered by a similar canopy.
This little building divides into two spaces the first panel of the tympanum, in which, to the right of the Virgin, are seated three prophets, their heads covered with veils, and on the left three kings, crowned, and all six hold a banderole with a meditative air. The prophets are present for the advent of the Messiah, and the kings as ancestors of the Virgin. The sculpture is remarkable in its realism controlled by the Gothic convention. Viollet-le-Duc considers these six figures as the most beautiful of this epoch, which have come down to us; the heads are expressive and lifelike.
The second zone represents the entombment of the Virgin. In the central group two angels hold the extremities of the shroud and lower the body into a rich sarcophagus. The Virgin is young and full of grace, with her hands crossed upon her breast. Behind the coffin stands Christ in an attitude of benediction surrounded by the twelve apostlesat the head of the tomb, Peter, and at the foot, John.
In the point of the tympanum Mary is glorified as the queen of angels and men. Christ shares her throne and has just placed upon her head a crown brought by an angel. Two other angels kneel to fill the angles of the space and hold towards the central group candlesticks with lights.
The sculptor has exhausted his subject in order to fill the four choirs of the soffit, with historic personages and devices, all of which contribute in detail to the ensemble of the scene. A hand-some band of ornamental sculpture finishes the pointed arch of the archivolt, but in order to give special relief to the whole, a large moulding in the form of a gable outlines a depression in the stone, and this form springs from two small columns.
Four statues flank each side of the entrance, carrying the height and general style of the figure upon the middle pier. To the right of the Virgin is Saint-Denis between two angels, carrying his head, and then Constantin. On the opposite side, facing Constantin, is the pope, Saint-Sylvestre, next him Sainte-Genevieve, then Saint-Etienne and John the Baptist. These statues are accompanied by little related figures which serve as pedestals, filling the triangular spaces between the arcade under the figures. Each one has its special significance and will reward close attention. For example, under Saint-Denis is the figure of the executioner with his axe, under Saint-Etienne a man with a stone in his hand, under Constantin a dog and a bird to signify Christianity triumphing over the demon, etc.
Against this wall, under the arches, are again little scenes in flat relief, much mutilated, which amplify the stories of the saints to which they refer. Thus, under Saint-Denis and Saint-Etienne, their martyrdom; under Sainte-Genevieve, the young girl, accompanied by an angel, receiving benediction from a hand which comes through a cloud, under John the Baptist, the executioner handing the head to the daughter of Herodias ; under the angels the conflict between good and bad spirits ; etc.
The beauty and antiquity of this entrance is greatly enhanced by a quantity of little panels, sculptured in relief upon the two faces of the jambs of the door. The Earth, represented by a woman holding a plant in her hands, and Water, by a woman riding a fish and holding a boat, in line with the reliefs just described, are the keynotes of a whole composition upon these subjects. Above these the panels make an almanac in stone, figuring the signs of the zodiac together with the different occupations of the months and seasons, and trees and shrubs, carved with astonishing fidelity to nature. This feature, perhaps more than any other, makes the unique beauty of the Porte de la Vierge, of which every surface is covered with sculpture without in the least detracting from its simplicity. The few reliefs upon the side-posts of the Porte du Jugement are without importance, while the older Porte Sainte-Anne is austerely plain.
The Porte Sainte-Anne, dedicated to the mother of the Virgin, expresses the moment of transition from Roman to Gothic architecture and has many points of interest and importance. The loiterer who has already visited the cathedral of Saint-Denis will at once recognize the analogy between the general aspect of this door and the facade of the older cathedral. This third entrance is thought to date, in its essential construction, from the XIIth century, to be contemporary with the apse, to be, in fine, the door which Maurice de Sully intended for the central portal of the primitive plan; while in its details it assembles some of the features of the earlier churches.
During the half-century which elapsed between the conception of the cathedral and the building of the facade the Roman style ceded to Gothic, and this door is exceedingly curious as showing a deliberate transformation to agree with the new laws of the XIIIth century. The architect under Philippe Auguste appears to have taken the door designed for the axis of the nave, and, while creating for his main entrance grander forms and richer ornamentation, to have respected the work of his predecessor, to have reserved for it an honourable place.
As it is narrower and more slender in all its parts than its companion, the Porte de la Vierge, it has seemed to me not impossible that this door itself decided the diminished width of the south tower and the whole of that division of the great portail. This theory I advance for what it is worth. I have not seen it stated by any of the authorities on the subject of the cathedral.
This Roman door became, then, one of the lateral entrances to the church, but since it was too low to accord with its companion, the Porte de la Vierge, the tympanum was raised by the introduction of another panel of sculpturethe lowestwhile the round Roman arch was changed to the Gothic ogive by the simple building up of a point; while some new figures were added to the choirs of the voussoir, in order to fill the thus amplified bay. All this is done so frankly that it is a simple matter to see what parts of the door are original and which have been added.
The stylobate with its ornaments was restored about 1850, the old decoration having been sadly damaged. Above this base in careful restoration one sees four statues at each side, replacing the originals of extreme antiquity, which were described by the Abbe Lebeuf, and others who had seen them, as having without doubt been relics from the old Saint-Etienne, the ecclesia senior. They are described as having been very flat in their modelling, as opposed to the round forms of the figures on the other doors, a characteristic of all the statues before the reigns of Pepin and Charlemagne, and are supposed to have resembled in style and subject the figures of the western portail of the cathedral of Chartres.
Lebeuf considered them as representing Saint Peter and Saint Paul to the left and right of the entrance, followed by Solomon and David (with the lyre) , Sheba and Bathsheba as biblical symbols of the church, and two kings representing the royal genealogy of the Virgin. On the other hand, Bernard de Montfaucon, who engraves them in his Les Monuments de la Monarchie Francaise, considers the royal personages as portraits of the kings and queens of the Merovingien ‘line, an argument which is much the more attractive.
The four figures to the right, on coming out of the church, are Saint Peter, a king who holds a book and a sceptre, a queen, and another king. The four to the left are Saint Paul, a king holding a stringed instrument, a queen, and a king holding a sceptre. Though de Montfaucon admits the difficulty of recognizing the portraits with accuracy, he conjectures that the king holding the violin could readily be Chilperic, who, according to Gregoire de Tours, made hymns and chants for the church, and who considered himself some-what of a musician. From this he divines that the first king, holding a book, could be Clotaire I, the father of Chilperic, the queen who follows appears even earlier. The portraiture is helped by the fidelity of costume and accessories; he wears the alb, the tunicle embroidered with palms, the fringed stole, the round chasuble, etc., and is further identified by his mitre, his cross, and the dragon under his feet. The story of the serpent which took up his abode in the sepulchre of a wicked woman, and which was exorcised by Saint-Marcel, makes one of the narratives of the Golden Legend. The sculptor touches lightly the tragedy, and aided by knowledge of the subject one makes out the body of the woman in her coffin, placed on end to fit the composition, and the monster with two claws and a serpent’s tail would then be Aregonde, his mother, and the last king, Gontran, the king of Burgundy. The first king in the next band, opposite Gontran, would be Chilperic, followed by one of his queens, the ferocious Fredegonde (who was long a refugee from justice in the older church) , and the last, next to Saint Paul, Clotaire II, son of Chilperic and Fredegonde, in whose reign must have been built this portal. In favour of this conjecture, points out de Montfaucon, only the first and last of these kings carried the sceptreClotaire I and Clotaire II, who were kings of Paris.
This writer also calls attention to the nimbi at the heads of the royal personages, as the only kings’ portraits thus decorated. Others wearing the nimbus are statues of saints. The first kings of France took the nimbus in imitation of the Roman emperors, whom they also followed in the form of their money. This custom of denoting royalty (lied out with the first race and at the time of Pepin and Charlemagne was no longer in vogue.
This door is sometimes called Porte Saint-Marcel from the long slim figure against the dividing pier (carefully recut from the original preserved in the Cluny Museum). Saint-Marcel was the ninth bishop of Parishe died in 436. His statue dates from the XIIIth century but which is XIIIth century, all of this panel dates from the XIIth century. The break is the more noticeable because of the difference in the stone used. The older stone is hard and gray, while the other being softer has taken a darker note.
At the summit of the tympanum the Virgin sits in the middle holding her Son, enthroned between angels. The king kneeling at her left offering a scroll has been identified as Louis VII, the friend of the abbe Suger, hero of the second crusade, and father of Philippe Auguste. To the Virgin’s right stands a bishop holding, like the king, an open scroll. The king kneels as a simple layman, the bishop stands in his quality with a hand in their construction. In this one we have him in the character of blacksmith, for ac-cording to tradition the ironwork of these two lateral doors is the devil’s handiwork. Guilhermy tells us that this devil forger was known to the quarter as Biscornette, and that savants have made of him an artist whose soubriquet has taken gravely its place upon a list of masters of the Middle Ages. The ironwork of the end doors is of the very finest of the XIIth and XIIIth centuries. The middle door having been tampered with by Soufilot is not of the same importance or beauty.
The side elevations, greatly damaged during the Revolution and later, show much restoration. The Porte du Cloitre, in the north transept, opened upon the enclosure reserved to the canonical houses. All the sculpture is to the glory of Mary and is of fine workmanship. The south side resembles the north, and bears the famous inscription, making one line across the portal, of which we have already spoken : Anno . Dni . M . CC . LVII . Mense . Februario . Idus . Secundo Hoc . Fuit Inceptum . Christi Genitcis . Honore . Kallensi . Lathomo . Vivente . Johanne . Magistro.
The Porte Saint-Etienne, reserved to the bishops, opened upon one of the courts of the episcopal palace. It is also called the Porte des Martyrs on account of the personages represented. The reliefs of the tympanum refer to the martyrdom of Saint-Etienne.
The small door, opening from the third chapel of the choir is known as the Porte Rouge, from the ancient colour of its valves, and is sup-posed to date from about 1257. Archaeologists have identified the figures of the Virgin and her son in the tympanum as portraits of Saint-Louis and Marguerite de Provence, possibly the only effigies of these personages sculptured in the XIIIth century which escaped the fury of the Revolutionists.