chapter  15
12 Pages

Early Gothic Sculpture and Painting

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

The west portals of Chartres Cathedral, the best-preserved sculptural ensemble of the mid-twelfth century are the sculptural counterpart of Early Gothic architecture. Since the sculpture of Chartres grows out of the more experimental portals of the west façade of Saint-Denis, dedicated in 1140, the date of the late 1140’s is reasonable for the carving and erection of the Royal Portals of Chartres. Chartres’ west portals establish a new relationship between sculpture and architecture. The sheer quantity and variety of sculpture in the west portals of Chartres indicate that the portals must have been carved by six or more artists. The supervising sculptor or headmaster was responsible for most of the central portal. In contrast to twelfth-century architecture, which reflects a matured creativity from the late 1130’s through the last decade of the century, early Gothic sculpture passes through an experimental phase at Saint-Denis and Étampes and reaches its apogee in the Royal Portals at Chartres.