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Panel 05 - Worshippers at a shrine to the Virgin and Child
Description:
An extraordinary panel, which appears to show worshippers visiting the Virgin's shrine. The group of men leaning in from the left are a spill-over from panel 04 - the yoke at the end of the rope with which they pull their cart is visible lower left. In the whole of Chartres Cathedral, this may be the only example where elements from one narrative spill into an adjoining panel. Such 'frame violations' are common in the work of one of the Bourges workshops but are almost unknown elsewhere (for more on this subject see chapter 9 of my PhD thesis).

Behind the cart-pullers is another group, one of whom carries a processional cross. Meanwhile, to the right is a group of men dressed in short tunics (hence not noblemen) and hose (so not peasants neither). The foremost appears to be placing an offering into a yellow bowl beneath the statue. Below the shrine a small figure offers his crutches - an ex voto in thanks for cured lameness.

Perhaps the most interesting element in this window is the depiction of the shrine itself (see detail below), which is shown as a folding tabernacle structure mounted on columns. Unlike so many of the Virgin and Child images at Chartres, this is NOT of the Sedes sapientiae type. Rather than looking straight out, the Virgin turns to her left. The Christ Child, seated on her left knee faces right and plays with what looks more like a three-balled rattle than a sceptre, the lower end of which is held loosely in the Virgin's right hand. Unlike the austere severity of the 'Throne of Wisdom' images, this is more like the rather playful Virgin and Child sculptures of the later 13th century. The statue is positioned within a trefoil-topped aedicule, flanked on either side by folding wings, painted in grisaille with bare-footed, bearded figures. The painting style, both of these fictive painted wings and of the statue itself, differs from the rest of the panel - the lines are more sketchy and there is less shading - possibly indicating that it is a later replacement (perhaps to reflect a later real shrine). On the other hand, this may simply have been the artist's way to represent representation - to depict an image in a different medium within the main image. One finds a similar distinction in painting style for depicted artworks in other windows - for example in the scenes featuring a statue of St Nicholas in bay 39 (panel 23 and panel 24)