Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Apse of the Church of Notre-Dame, Huy, and the Bethlehem Portal; The Bethlehem Portal

1824

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 78 × 118 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D19631
Turner Bequest CCXVI 41

Catalogue entry

Here Turner pictures the apse and Bethlehem Portal of Notre-Dame, Huy’s Collegiate Church constructed between 1311 and 1536 (see also Tate D19630; Turner Bequest CCXVI 40).1 The Bethlehem Portal is a celebrated feature, carved by Mosan artisans in the second half of the fourteenth century and sketched in detail by Turner here at top right.2 The portal’s arch is separated into three narrative schemes, each depicting crucial moments in the life of the Virgin. At left, Mary is depicted recumbent after having given birth to the baby Jesus who rests next to her in the manger. Joseph watches over his wife as oxen warm the Christ child and shepherds look on in the background. The right section shows the Magi worshiping at the foot of the Virgin’s bed, bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The central section of the arched portal shows the Massacre of the Innocents. At bottom right Turner has drawn what appears to be another arched entranceway, this one flanked with carved figurines of two bishops holding sceptres and the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus on the central dividing column.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2014

1
‘La Collégiale Notre-Dame de Huy’, Le Pays de Huy, accessed 25 March 2014, http://www.pays-de-huy.be/index1.html
2
‘Le Bethléem’, Le Pays de Huy, accessed 25 March 2014, http://www.pays-de-huy.be/attr-bethleem.htm

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