Birth of the Virgin Mary and Childhood

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sculpture chartres renaissance joachim

 

The first sequence of sculpture on the choir screen, starting at the western end of the south ambulatory, is the work of Jehan Soulas from 1519-1521.1 Sculpted from the hard limestone from the Tonnerre quarry, they consist of scenes from the Gospel of James, depicting the annunciation of the Virgin Mary to Joachim and St Anne, the birth of Mary, and the presentation of Mary in the temple.

 

The tableaux above shows Joachim who having had his offering to the temple rejected because he was without child, had fled into the the mountains with the shepherds and the sheep, when the archangel Gabriel came and announced that his wife St Anne would bear a child.2

 

sculpture chartres renaissance saint anne

 

With Joachim having fled into the mountains, Anne was crying at home for his return, when an Gabriel tells her that she will soon become pregnant and have a child.3 In the scene shown Anne's servant [no-glossary]Judith[/no-glossary]4 is standing behind her holding a jug.5

 

 

sculpture chartres renaissance saint anne joachim

 

Having been told by the angel Gabriel that they will have a child, Anne and Joachim meet at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem,6 which is shown behind them as a fortified city. Anne has brought her servant to the reunion, who stands on the left. Anne and Joachim are depicted kissing as a prelude to the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary.7

 

sculpture chartres renaissance birth virgin

 

In this scene Mary is being washed, immediately after being born, by the midwife and servant of her mother St Anne. In the background another women looks down at a tired Anne who is resting on a bed.8

 

chartres 066

 

In the background Mary climbs the 15 steps to the Temple's altar. In the foreground Joachim and Anne are in conversation, whilst on the left a small boy carrying a wicker basket is tugging at his mother's dress.9