Sacred Sunday: Gothic Tombs and Architectural Sculptures 1251 thru 1300, Part 2

This is the second and final part to Gothic tombs and sculptures of this period. Sacred Sunday is a continuing series on Crash Course.

Angel Musician 1280-1300 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

Angel Musician
1280-1300
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

Virgin and Child 1277 Marble Cathedral, Tarragona

Virgin and Child
1277
Marble
Cathedral, Tarragona

In Catalonia, Gothic sculpture begins with Master Bartomeu, author of this marble statue of the Virgin on the center pier of the main porch of Tarragona cathedral (c. 1277). This extraordinarily delicate figure is carved in a style that can best be described as idealized archaism.

South Portal 13th century Stone Basilica de San Vicente, Ávila

South Portal
13th century
Stone
Basilica de San Vicente, Ávila

The picture shows the decorated south portal of the Basilica of San Vicente at Ávila.

Coroneria Door 1240-60 Stone Cathedral, Burgos

Coroneria Door
1240-60
Stone
Cathedral, Burgos

The Coroneria (Coronation) Door is in the north wall of the transept of the Burgos Cathedral. It is probably the work of Master Enrique (died 1277), architect, sculptor, designer, master builder of the Cathedral of León. The style is more Spanish than that of the sculpture around the Sarmental Door, doubless the most ancient of the Burgos Cathedral.

Pellejeria Door 1240-60 Stone Cathedral, Burgos

Pellejeria Door
1240-60
Stone
Cathedral, Burgos

The side door of the cathedral contains low-reliefs representing the Conception of Our Lady.

Portal of the Cloister 1240-60 Stone Cathedral, Burgos

Portal of the Cloister
1240-60
Stone
Cathedral, Burgos

The finely decorated door leads from the Cathedral to the Cloister.

Alfonso X and Doña Violante 1460-70 Stone Cloister of the Cathedral, Burgos

Alfonso X and Doña Violante
1460-70
Stone
Cloister of the Cathedral, Burgos

The columns and galleries of the cloister are adorned with groups of statues that illustrate the diversity of Gothic sculpture of the period. The group representing Alfonso X and his wife is especially noteworthy. In these figures the idea of a portrait has been fully realized without detracting from the strictly plastic values.

Adoration of the Magi 1260-70 Stone Cloister of the Cathedral, Burgos

Adoration of the Magi
1260-70
Stone
Cloister of the Cathedral, Burgos

The Queen of Swabia 1290s Stone Cloister of the Cathedral, Burgos

The Queen of Swabia
1290s
Stone
Cloister of the Cathedral, Burgos

The sculpture of the upper cloister at Burgos Cathedral belongs to the end of the 13th century. In this case, the influence of Reims is decisive and combines with reflections of the Amiens style. The figure of Queen Beatrix of Swabia shows the Spanish sculptor typically assimilating outside influences and yet arriving at something characteristically Spanish. With its air of authority and its realism, it stands midway between the calm nobility of the Reims Queen of Sheba and the sharp Countess Uta or the harsh Gerburg at Naumburg Cathedral.

Portada de la Virgen Blanca 1250-1300 Stone Cathedral, Leon

Portada de la Virgen Blanca
1250-1300
Stone
Cathedral, Leon

Portada de la Virgen Blanca is the west portal of the Leon Cathedral. The of west porch appears to be derived from Chartres; but the sculpture itself relates first to Burgos and then back to France (probably to Amiens and Reims).

La Portada de la Virgen Blanca (detail) 1250-1300 Stone Cathedral, Leon

La Portada de la Virgen Blanca (detail)
1250-1300
Stone
Cathedral, Leon

The detail shows the Last Judgment in the Tympanum of the main (west) door of the Cathedral.

In the Cathedral of León, the range of sculpture, from the second half of the thirteenth century, is even broader than at Burgos. The three doors of the west front with its portico, the transept doors, and the interior with its beautiful funerary monuments represent a cross-section of the plastic arts of the early Gothic. Clearly there were three principal sculptors, whose personalities are distinctly expressed. The foremost of the three, to whom the more important groups were entrusted, is none other than the man who carved the statues for the Coronería Door in Burgos cathedral.

His stone image of the Virgin and Child, known as the White Virgin (Virgen Blanca), is one of the finest sculptures ever made in Spain. The noble severity of his style stands opposed to the greater freedom and imagination of the second of the three sculptors of León, known only as the Master of the Last Judgment, whose narrative poetry is very personal and profoundly Spanish. The third master carved the apostles on the jambs of the south door and many statues in the main façade. The style of this artist is more restrained, closer to the manner of the French masters from Amiens who carved the Sarmental Door at Burgos.

The Virgen Blanca 1250-75 Stone Cathedral, Leon

The Virgen Blanca
1250-75
Stone
Cathedral, Leon

The Virgen Blanca or Nuestra Señora la Blanca of the west portal of Leon Cathedral is the masterpiece of a certain Enrico, who died in 1277. He worked at Burgos and at Leon, and though he must have been trained at Amiens, he transformed the stylized grace of his masters’ 13th century French Gothic art into something more picturesque and anecdotal. The drapery folds are more broken, more angular, the Virgin is pleasant and kindly, and her Son, a lively and mischievous ‘niño’.

Tomb of Infante Don Felipe 1274 Marble Villalcázar de Sirga, Palencia

Tomb of Infante Don Felipe
1274
Marble
Villalcázar de Sirga, Palencia

During the thirteenth century, the introduction of the Gothic style by artists from the north of France was paralleled by an independent evolution toward the new forms. This was characterized by lingering traces of the Romanesque, particularly a certain archaism and a taste for the ornamental interpretation of structure and detail. One of the best demonstrations of the potentialities of this art is the tomb of the Infante Don Felipe (died 1274) and his wife, Leonor Rodríguez de Castro, in Villalcázar de Sirga.

The faces of the tomb are carved with scenes of mourning, set between bands of heraldic ornament. The two recumbent figures, both of great beauty, reveal the sculptor’s interest in the details of dress, though at no time does he lose sight of the general design. This work is attributed to the sculptor Antón Pérez de Carrión and is remarkable for its freshness and originality.

Main Portal (detail) 1250-75 Stone Cathedral, Burgo de Osma

Main Portal (detail)
1250-75
Stone
Cathedral, Burgo de Osma

The Gothic cathedral at Burgo de Osma was begun in 1232, the sculpture in the main portal was installed between 1250 and 1275. The jamb-piers are divided into two registers, the lower decorated with blind arcading, and the upper with a series of figures from the Old and New Testaments. These prophets, kings and queens are the work of an artrist who knew the art of Burgos but not French cathedral sculpture.

The proportions are more compact than those of contemporary French figures, the faces schematic, and the draperies coarser in treatment. This simpler, low-keyed provincial art is at several removes from its model, the series of kings and prophets at Reims.

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Sacred Sunday: Gothic Tombs and Architectural Sculptures 1251 thru 1300, Part 1

This piece begins a 2-part series on Gothic tombs and architectural sculpture. The final part will be published next Sunday.

The Martyrdom of St Stephen c. 1260 Stone Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris

The Martyrdom of St Stephen
c. 1260
Stone
Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris

The relief representing the martyrdom of St Stephen is on the south portal of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

Tomb of Dagobert I c. 1260 Stone Abbey Church, Saint-Denis

Tomb of Dagobert I
c. 1260
Stone
Abbey Church, Saint-Denis

This is one of the many monuments remade at the order of St Louis. The tomb of Dagobert I (died 638) is heavily restored but the main outlines of it are medieval. It has an interest in that it preserves its original canopy. No other canopies survive, but many of the monuments preserve the tomb-chest.

Christ and the Wise Virgins 1280-1300 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

Christ and the Wise Virgins
1280-1300
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

The figures are on the left portal on the west façade of the Strasbourg Cathedral.

The King of the World and the Foolish Virgins 1280-1300 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

The King of the World and the Foolish Virgins
1280-1300
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

The figures on the left portal on the west façade of the Strasbourg Cathedral represent the King of the World and the Foolish Virgins which together depict a scene in which the Foolish Virgins are tempted into sin.

While the apple held by the male figure and the oak leaves that run alongside him are highly naturalistic, his own body is highly artificial, with sharp, exaggerated features. Below on the socle are quatrefoils representing the labours of the months, from January feasting to Maytime flower-picking.

Stories of the Passion 1280-1300 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

Stories of the Passion
1280-1300
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

The four registers of the tympanum above the central portal on the west façade of the Strasbourg Cathedral represent stories of the Passion culminating in the Crucifixion of Christ.

Main portal 1280-1300 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

Main portal
1280-1300
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

The west façade of the Strasbourg Cathedral was built between 1277 and 1365. The original design is attributed to a legendary figure, Erwin of Steinbach, but the façade underwent various changes throughout the almost 100-year period it took to build it. Much of the sculptural decoration of this façade, clustered mainly around the three main portals, survives, however, it was damaged several times during the Reformation and Revolutionary periods. As a result, some of the sculptures had to be restored in the late 19th century, while still others had to be taken down and replaced by copies (the originals are preserved in the Cathedral Museum.

The photo shows the central portal of the west façade. The jamb statues represent prophets with the Virgin and Child in the middle. The four registers of the tympanum represents stories of the Passion culminating in the Crucifixion of Christ.

Figures of Benefactors c. 1260 Stone Cathedral, Meissen

Figures of Benefactors
c. 1260
Stone
Cathedral, Meissen

The two figures in the Choir are Empress Adelheid and Emperor Otto I. The architectural sculpture in Meissen represents the same style as that seen in Naumburg, it is assumed that the same sculptors worked here after finishing the Naumburg decoration.

Head of Adelheid c. 1260 Stone Cathedral, Meissen

Head of Adelheid
c. 1260
Stone
Cathedral, Meissen

Detail of the tomb of Louis de France c. 1260 Stone Abbey Church, Saint-Denis

Detail of the tomb of Louis de France
c. 1260
Stone
Abbey Church, Saint-Denis

The detail shows mourners on the base of the tomb of Louis de France, originally in the abbey church of Royaumont.

The field of sculpture which expanded in the mid thirteenth century was that commanded by the private patron and concerned with his immediate interests – sculpture connected with family palaces and family chapels and mausolea. Of all these, the most substantial remains are on the tombs, although even these have come down to us in a sadly fragmentary condition. Louis IX had a strong sense of family history, and the remains exist of a long series of monuments commissioned by him to mark the reinterment of the Carolingian and Capetian houses of the distant and not-so-distant past.

Many of the monuments preserve only the tomb-chests, like in the case of the tomb of Louis de France who died in 1260. The side of these tomb-chests were decorated with small figures set in arcades and generally representing relatives, called “weeper-figures”. Another motif was the funeral procession of the deceased, like in this detail.

Censing Angel 1250s Stone Westminster Abbey, London

Censing Angel
1250s
Stone
Westminster Abbey, London

This detail comes from the west angle of south transept of the Westminster Abbey.

The Westminster Abbey reflects the French influence on English architecture but it has a reduced importance for sculpture. The style of the surviving sculptures of the Abbey is not that of contemporary France. Instead, it is a compound of styles of the previous decades (Chartres, Amiens, Wells).

Virgin of the Annunciation 1253 Stone Westminster Abbey, London

Virgin of the Annunciation
1253
Stone
Westminster Abbey, London

The sculptor is in the Chapter House of the Abbey.

Tomb of Edmund "Crouchback" 1296-1300 Stone Westminster Abbey, London

Tomb of Edmund “Crouchback”
1296-1300
Stone
Westminster Abbey, London

In England, like in France in the same period, much of the most individual sculptural work went into private family enterprises like tombs. The English royal family commissioned some splendid tombs, many of which still survive in Westminster Abbey. That of Edmund Crouchback (died 1296) survives virtually intact. It has a large canopy, and, like other contemporary French monuments, the sides are ornamented with family “weepers”.

Effigy of Henry III 1290s Bronze Westminster Abbey, London

Effigy of Henry III
1290s
Bronze
Westminster Abbey, London

An important development had begun gradually in the 13th century which was to have the greatest influence on sculpture as a whole. The rising personal and family colts of the late Middle Ages led individuals to wish to perpetuate themselves or their families and position in the ruling hierarchy. The idea of creating tombs for royal orspecially revered persons had always existed, though the practice was fairly restricted and the concern with sculpture very limited.

At the beginning of the new development the lead was, of course, given by the tombs of kings (like the monument of Henry III in the Westminster Abbey) or the greater princes, lay or ecclesiastical. Fortunately, the idea percolated rapidly downwards, and tomb had become a family status symbol.

Effigy of a Knight c. 1300 Stone Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester

Effigy of a Knight
c. 1300
Stone
Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester

The tomb is in the middle of one of the chapels of the Dorchester Abbey. This magnificent piece of medieval carving, one of the most impressive in England, is the effigy of Sir John Holcomb, the crusader, died in the 2nd Crusade. He was made a knight in his dying bed by Richard the Lion Heart because of his bravery in battle.

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Sacred Sunday: 13th Gothic Sculptures in Architecture (1201-1230)

Gothic Gargoyle Sculpture Notre Dame cathedral, Paris. Cathedrals in Northern France built between 1100 and 1250 contain some of the greatest sculptures ever.

Gothic Gargoyle Sculpture Notre Dame cathedral, Paris. Cathedrals in Northern France built between 1100 and 1250 contain some of the greatest sculptures ever.

Reflecting the increasing stability of the age as well as the growing power and ambition of the Christian Church, the Gothic cathedral was designed as a miniature symbol of God’s universe.

Each element of the building’s design conveyed a theological message: namely, the awesome glory of God. The ordered nature of the structure reflected the clarity and rationality of God’s universe, while the sculptures (reliefs and column statues), stained glass windows and murals illustrated the scriptural messages of the Bible. Craftsmen involved included the greatest sculptors in Europe, but they remained largely anonymous.

This edition of Sacred Sunday is not concerned with buildings or arches, but with sculpture in stone. If the word Gothic has any permanent meaning it must be applicable not only to a cathedral, but to a statue or a relief. But if we isolate an angel from the cathedral of Rheims – from its architectural context – how are we to know whether it is Gothic or not?

How, for instance, does Gothic sculpture differ from earlier Ottonian art (c.900-1050) or Romanesque sculpture? There is no neat answer to such questions. Gothic is a relative, not an absolute term. It is a flavour that can be either hardly detectable, or, in extreme cases, overwhelming. What began to produce the flavour was another outburst of that spirit of visual curiosity which is among the chief motive forces of European art.

Curiosity about the human body produced Greek art; another kind of curiosity was responsible for the Gothic spirit. Greek curiosity was that of a scientist: Gothic curiosity was that of a lover. It was an affectionate curiosity, full of little whimsies and extravagances. Instead of limiting itself to humanity it could range playfully and capriciously across the whole of creation, picking out details, a monstrous form here, a charming turn of the wrist there.

Greece had developed in the direction of greater breadth and simplicity: Gothic developed in the direction of complexity and preciousness, and gaily mingled the grotesque with the elegant. It is this mixture that gives it its true flavour, and, for that reason it can be summed up in no single statue or painting. If Byzantine mosaic is like beer in that one needs a lot of it, Gothic art is like a cocktail in that its separate ingredients do not fairly represent its final flavour. It has all the complexity of life itself.

Figures on the west portal 1150-70 Stone Cathedral, Chartres

Figures on the west portal
1150-70
Stone
Cathedral, Chartres

The west portal of the Chartres Cathedral is called Royal Portal. It has been suggested that the designation “royal” refers to the Virgin as Queen of Heaven. This portal, begun in about 1150, offers an iconographical and technical conception of sculpture that is partially inherited from Romanesque portals.

The theme is a résumé of the Christian doctrine and an illustration to the links between Old and New Testaments: on the jambs are the prophets and the precursors of Christ, and on the tympana, from the left to the right are depicted the Ascension, Christ of the Apocalypse, and the Mystery of the Incarnation. In spirit, the portal is Gothic; tympana and lintels are recessed under the arches, which are decorated with series of statuettes, and each jamb is occupied by a single figure whose core it becomes, to form the famous column-statue.

The picture shows the figures of the left-hand jamb, representing the Queen of Sheba and Solomon.

Jamb Figures 1150-70 Stone Cathedral, Chartres

Jamb Figures
1150-70
Stone
Cathedral, Chartres

The picture shows the figures of the right-hand jamb.

Statuettes 1150-70 Stone Cathedral, Chartres

Statuettes
1150-70
Stone
Cathedral, Chartres

The picture shows some of the statuettes: Music (with Pythagoras) and Grammatic (with Donatus).

Figures on the north transept 1200-10 Stone Cathedral, Chartres

Figures on the north transept
1200-10
Stone
Cathedral, Chartres

Figures on the north transept 1200-10 Stone Cathedral, Chartres

Figures on the north transept
1200-10
Stone
Cathedral, Chartres

These are the east jamb figures on central portal of north transept: Melchidezek, Abraham and Isaac, Moses, Samuel and King David.

Christ Blessing 1200-10 Stone Cathedral, Chartres

Christ Blessing
1200-10
Stone
Cathedral, Chartres

The figure of Christ Blessing is from the south portal of the Chartres Cathedral. At the beginning of the 13th century there is a relaxation in style of the architectural sculptures. The faces fill out and the features become much more natural and human. In addition, the statues appear rather more as works of art in their own right and less as architectural adjuncts.

Visitation Group and Prophet Daniel c. 1225 Stone Cathedral, Chartres

Visitation Group and Prophet Daniel
c. 1225
Stone
Cathedral, Chartres

Chartres Cathedral was rebuilt after a fire in 1194 destroyed large part of the old cathedral. A completely new kind of building was erected, one whose transept façades have portals that were given as much importance as those on the west front. The oldest of these is the middle doorway on the north façade, the so-called Triumph of Mary Portal, dated 1204-05. The other transept portals are later.

The Visitation Group is on the right north portal.

St Theodore c. 1230 Stone Cathedral, Chartres

St Theodore
c. 1230
Stone
Cathedral, Chartres

St Theodore, in the embrasure of the right door of the south transept of the Chartres Cathedral, is stylistically among the later figures at Chartres, probably dating from the last period of the work there – that is about 1230. By then, Gothic art had completed its evolution towards the mastery of three-dimensional form and truth to nature.

Bare-headed and wearing the costume of a 13th-century warrior, the saint is the embodiment of the ideal knight. Gothic statuary had reached perfection. The thin, oval face is still of the great Chartres family, but has a more marked virility, confidence and sobriety than have the faces of the prophets.

Figures from the Judgment Portal c. 1220 Stone Cathedral, Reims

Figures from the Judgment Portal
c. 1220
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

The Judgment Portal is on the north transept of the Cathedral. The drapery style is derived from antique sculpture of the fourth century. It is assumed that the original intention was to decorate the whole west façade with sculpture of this style. The east jamb figures shown on the right are St. Andrew and St. Peter.

St Peter (detail) c. 1220 Stone Cathedral, Reims

St Peter (detail)
c. 1220
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

The most obvious direct imitations of the antique in the 13th century took place at Reims in the years 1211-25. The head of St Peter – shown on the picture from the Last Judgment Portal of the Cathedral – is an example of this, the most famous being the two figures of the Visitation on the west portal.

Visitation Group 1211-25 Stone Cathedral, Reims

Visitation Group
1211-25
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

The figures of the Visitation are the most famous and are located on the exterior of the Cathedral as jamb figures (left side) of the central portal on the west façade. The group consists of Archangel Gabriel with the Annunciate Virgin; Mary and Elizabeth. It is possible that the original intention was to decorate the whole west façade with sculpture of this style.

Visitation Group (detail) 1211-25 Stone Cathedral, Reims

Visitation Group (detail)
1211-25
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

The detail shows the head of Mary.

St Elizabeth 1211-25 Stone Cathedral, Reims

St Elizabeth
1211-25
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

The picture shows St Elizabeth from the Visitation Group.

Visitation Group 1211-25 Stone Cathedral, Reims

Visitation Group
1211-25
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

Another view of the figures of Mary and Elisabeth.

Last Judgment (detail) 1230 Stone Cathedral, Reims

Last Judgment (detail)
1230
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

This relief (and below) representing the saved souls is on the portal of the northern transept of the Reims Cathedral.

Last Judgment (detail) c. 1230 Stone Cathedral, Reims

Last Judgment (detail)
c. 1230
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

Apostles c. 1230 Stone Cathedral, Reims

Apostles
c. 1230
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

The picture shows apostles wearing togas modeled on Roman drapery from the north transept of Reims Cathedral.

Synagogue c. 1220 Stone Cathedral, Reims

Synagogue
c. 1220
Stone
Cathedral, Reims

In Gothic art, Synagogue (i.e. Judaism) was conventionally represented as a beautiful woman blindfolded, so that she could not see Christ’s truth, losing her crown and with a broken staff – the end of the Old Covenant.

The Annunciation c. 1225 Stone Cathedral, Amiens

The Annunciation
c. 1225
Stone
Cathedral, Amiens

The figures shown are from the south-west portal. The sculptures represent an austere style as compared with the earlier style of Chartres and Reims.

Christ c. 1220 Stone Cathedral, Amiens

Christ
c. 1220
Stone
Cathedral, Amiens

This figure of Christ treading on the lion and basilisk is popularly known as the “handsome” or “beautiful God” (beau dieu).

St John c. 1210 Stone Yorkshire Museum, York

St John
c. 1210
Stone
Yorkshire Museum, York Credit Yorkshire Museum

In England, the first door with a complete range of French style column figures appeared at St Mary’s Abbey, York. The portal was destroyed and apart from the main figures, like the jamb figure of St John,almost nothing survived. The style of these figures remained an isolated phenomenon in England.

Death of the Virgin c. 1230 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

Death of the Virgin
c. 1230
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

This group is on the tympanum of west portal of south transept. It is the first clear example of first-class sculpture in Germany derived in style from France. The figures are dependent on the style of the best transept sculpture of Chartres Cathedral, with influence in the drapery and the grace of the figures from the intervening sculpture at Reims.

South portal c. 1230 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

South portal
c. 1230
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

The double portal leading to the south transept of the Strasbourg Cathedral, though Romanesque in style, is decorated with remarkable Gothic reliefs and statues. The large female jamb statues on either side (copies, the originals are in the Cathedral Museum) are allegorical figures.The delicately curved one on the right, blindfolded, symbolizes the Synagoga, while the one on the left a more solemn, forceful figure, represents the Ecclesia, the Church Triumphant. The central figure represents Solomon. The lunettes depict the Coronation and the Death of the Virgin.

Synagogue c. 1230 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

Synagogue
c. 1230
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

The statue representing the Synagogue decorates the south portal of the Cathedral. The original is now in the Cathedral Museum.

Synagoga c. 1230 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

Synagoga
c. 1230
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

The two female figures on the south portal of the Strasbourg Cathedral allegorically represent Christianity and Judaism. In Medieval iconography they were usually shown as engaged in a dispute in which Synagoga, the personification of Judaism, was the inferior and was shown vanquished. Most unusually, however, the figures at SStrasbourg turn toward each other and toward the central figure of the double portal, Solomon. Thus the conflict is reinterpreted and given a conciliatory outcome.

The figure of Ecclesia (below), standing almost stiffly upright, wears a crown. The cross and chalice are replacements, but these attributes seem insignificant compared with the figure’s majestic appearance. She turns to speak her final words to Synagoga, while the latter, already turning toward her opponent, will maintain her attitude of rejection only for a few moments more. She still holds the broken staff and the Tablets of the Law, and turns away, blindfolded, because she has not yet recognized the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Ecclesia c. 1230 Stone Cathedral, Strasbourg

Ecclesia
c. 1230
Stone
Cathedral, Strasbourg

Choir screen (detail) 1200-20 Stone Cathedral, Bamberg

Choir screen (detail)
1200-20
Stone
Cathedral, Bamberg

These cathedrals are among man’s most extraordinary and moving creations, whether one sees them from afar, rearing themselves proudly above the city that surrounds them and breaking upwards into spires and pinnacles, whether one examines them at close quarters, noting the restless infinity of sculptural detail and fretted texture, or whether one enters them to find oneself in a complex architectural system whose soaring pillars and ribbed vaults arrest the eye so effectively that the walls are hardly noticeable and the effect is rather that of a formalized forest than of an enclosed room.

The anonymity of Gothic art in general and of Gothic sculpture in particular offers an obstacle to the art historian of which he himself is hardly conscious. The three great west doorways of Rheims cathedral alone contain 33 life-size and 200 smaller figures, each of which is the product of a passionately creative mind and a fully developed tradition of craftsmanship. And when one remembers that this amazing collection of medieval sculpture is contained within a comparatively small area of one among a hundred similar buildings, one is amazed at the extraordinary fecundity of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in north-western Europe.

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Sacred Sunday: 11th-13th Century Romanesque Christian Stone Carvings

Raising of Lazarus c. 1080 Marble Cathedral, Chichester. The influence of illumination on Romanesque sculpture in England is considerable, which is explained by the importance of royal and episcopal patronage. Among the most compelling works for their dramatic intensity are the fragments of a choir screen at Chichester Cathedral, with scenes from the life of Lazarus.

Raising of Lazarus
c. 1080
Marble
Cathedral, Chichester.
The influence of illumination on Romanesque sculpture in England is considerable, which is explained by the importance of royal and episcopal patronage. Among the most compelling works for their dramatic intensity are the fragments of a choir screen at Chichester Cathedral, with scenes from the life of Lazarus.

Romanesque art and architecture flourished throughout western Europe from about 1050 to about 1200, although its first manifestations occurred before the year 1000, and its influence remained strong in some areas of Europe well into the 13th century. Unlike Carolingian art and architecture and Ottonian art and architecture, from which it drew many forms and elements, Romanesque was a truly pan-European movement.

By the beginning of the 11th century, European civilization had become stable and prosperous under the aegis of the Christian church, through whose network of abbeys the new artistic order was established and spread. An unprecedented building activity stimulated the development of innovative architectural techniques and styles, which in turn demanded new forms of pictorial and sculptural decoration.

Most Romanesque churches retained the basic plan of the Early Christian basilica: a long, three-aisled nave intercepted by a transept and terminating in a semicircular apse crowned by a conch, or half-dome.  Whereas Early Christian structures employed thin, flat walls to support thin roofs and wooden ceilings, however, the masonry structure of Romanesque churches assumed far more complicated configurations, in which heavy piers and arched openings divide the interior into well-defined spatial areas, while large masses of clearly separated geometric forms impart to the exterior an aura of grandeur and power.

The greatest breakthrough of Romanesque architecture, however, occurred in interior vaulting.  Groin vaults had long been used in the lower side-aisles of the nave, but the thin walls of pre-Romanesque churches could support only wooden ceilings and roofs.  By redesigning and reinforcing the walls, Romanesque builders were able to span the wide and often lofty nave with a solid barrel vault and thus create completely vaulted structures.

After the fall (AD 476) of the Roman Empire the practice of decorating buildings with large reliefs ceased for almost 600 years. The revival of monumental relief sculpture as a major form of art is one of the outstanding achievements of the Romanesque period. Often highly stylized and at times verging on the abstract, Romanesque reliefs were used chiefly to embellish the church portals.

Raising of Lazarus (detail) c. 1080 Stone Cathedral, Chichester

Raising of Lazarus (detail)
c. 1080
Stone
Cathedral, Chichester

The dating of the two reliefs at Chichester representing the Raising of Lazarus (above) and Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (below) depends on whether they considered post-Norman-conquest works, or typically Saxon. The approximate date of 1080, suggested by some English historians, has the merit of taking into account the Saxon as well as the French elements in this Norman work. On the other hand, several authorities believe the panels to have been executed as late as the 12th century, while yet others place them as early as the middle Saxon period. The decidedly expressionistic style of the emaciated, angular face suggests an attribution to a Saxon sculptor.

Meeting of Christ, Mary and Martha 1120-25 Stone Cathedral, Chichester. There are two reliefs in Chichester Cathedral in Sussex which originally were part of the rood screen. One of them shows the meeting of Christ, Mary and Martha in front of the gates of Bethany, and the other shows the raising of Lazarus. The choir of Chichester Cathedral was consecrated in 1108. The rood screen and the reliefs were created somewhat later.

Meeting of Christ, Mary and Martha
1120-25
Stone
Cathedral, Chichester.
There are two reliefs in Chichester Cathedral in Sussex which originally were part of the rood screen. One of them shows the meeting of Christ, Mary and Martha in front of the gates of Bethany, and the other shows the raising of Lazarus. The choir of Chichester Cathedral was consecrated in 1108. The rood screen and the reliefs were created somewhat later.

Raising of Lazarus 1120-25 Stone Cathedral, Chichester.

Raising of Lazarus
1120-25
Stone
Cathedral, Chichester.

Console figure c. 1150 Stone Church of St Mary and St David, Kilpeck.

Console figure
c. 1150
Stone
Church of St Mary and St David, Kilpeck.

In Romanesque sculpture, the demonization of sexuality in the depiction of the sexual organs is visually crude to the point of grotesque distortion. One of the most exceptional depictions of a vulva woman is in Kilpeck, England.

The figure is steeply foreshortened and its head is not female as much as demonic; her arms are folded underneath her legs, and she is using her hands to open and display her vulva. This depiction, called a “Sheela-na-gig,” meaning “ugly as sin,” had some counterparts in Romanesque sculpture. These graphic depictions of female genitalia do in fact date back to the Stone Age and can be found in many Asian countries.

Lion Taking a Lamb c. 1140 Stone Monastery Church, Mariental.

Lion Taking a Lamb
c. 1140
Stone
Monastery Church, Mariental.

The picture shows a Romanesque sculpture in the twelth-century monastery church in Mariental near Helmstedt. It depicts a lion as a persecutor of the Good, taking a lamb.

Devil Noting down Man's Sins c. 1210 Limestone Minster of St Martin, Bonn

Devil Noting down Man’s Sins
c. 1210
Limestone
Minster of St Martin, Bonn

Devil appears noting down man’s sins on the stone side wall of a choir stall in the Minster of St Martin, the former collegiate church of St Cassius and St Florentinus in Bonn (North Rhein-Wesphalia). The same choir stall contains an angel noting down man’s good deeds (below).

Angel Noting down Man's Good Deeds c. 1210 Limestone Minster of St Martin, Bonn

Angel Noting down Man’s Good Deeds
c. 1210
Limestone
Minster of St Martin, Bonn

Two Apostles 1210-20 Stone Cathedral, Bamberg

Two Apostles
1210-20
Stone
Cathedral, Bamberg

The choir screen of Bamberg Cathedral is decorated with a series of prophets and apostles in a late Romanesque style, executed before the dedication in 1237. The apostles dispute, two by two, in a succession of niches, the earlier pairs standing under arches that are still semicircular, the later under trefoil arches.

Although Germany has little feeling for monumentality, these apostles carry on the Ottonian traditions inspired by antiquity. The thick-set sturdy bodies are revealed by the curving folds which emphasize the bodily forms. In the broad modelling and the expressive pathos given the faces, the apostles are close to Roman models.

Head of the Prophet Jonah 1210s Stone Cathedral, Bamberg

Head of the Prophet Jonah
1210s
Stone
Cathedral, Bamberg

This image of the prophet Jonah on the choir screen in the Bamberg Cathedral is one of the finest examples of German statuary in the first quarter of the 13th century. The square head with shaven skull, the gathered brows, the intense, haunted glance, and the half-open mouth, forcefully convey the prophet’s tension and dramatic vision.

Compared with Bamberg sculptures from the Gothic workshops that began to operate around 1230, the statues on the choir screen display their Romanesque inspiration in their drapery, and it is clear that when the Gothic style was imported into Bamberg it found there a still-flourishing Romanesque art.

The Apostle Peter 1100 Stone Saint-Pierre, Moissac

The Apostle Peter
1100
Stone
Saint-Pierre, Moissac

In technique and in general iconography the apostles in the Moissac cloister are closely akin to those in the ambulatory of Saint Sernin, but they are stronger and more vigorous in style. The pier is conceived as a stele, and the standing figure, completely incorporated into its support, is confined within the spatial framework of the arched niche. The face seen in profile is more realistic in effect than the frontal visage of the apostle from Saint Sernin; and here the apostle’s attributes are clearly shown.

The Prophet Isaiah 1120-35 Stone relief. height 176 cm Abbey Church of Sainte-Marie, Souillac

The Prophet Isaiah
1120-35
Stone relief. height 176 cm
Abbey Church of Sainte-Marie, Souillac

This relief is on the interior west wall of the former abbey church of Sainte-Marie in Souillac. The figure of the prophet, pulsating with powerful plastic life, embodies a maximum of what Romanesque art was capable of producing in high relief. The direct model of the figure is that of Jeremiah on the south portal of Saint-Pierre at Moissac.

Tribune for the choir 1150s Marble Church of Notre-Dame, Serrabone

Tribune for the choir
1150s
Marble
Church of Notre-Dame, Serrabone

In the tribune of Serrabone we find Corinthian heritage with varied monsters and animals whose bodies are bent around the corners of the capital. The gallery, roofed with groined vaults resting on columns with capitals, displays a façade on which the evangelist symbols are represented.

Interior 1066-90 Stone San Martín, Frómista

Interior
1066-90
Stone
San Martín, Frómista

The church of San Martín in Frómista (Province of Palencia), started in 1066, is one of the important churches with architectural sculpture built by the royal families of Léon, Castile and Aragón in the second half of the eleventh century. These churches display a wide spectrum of self-contained Spanish sculpture.

The picture shows a detail of the interior with half-columns between the nave and the side aisle.

Console figure 1085-90 Stone San Martín, Frómista

Console figure
1085-90
Stone
San Martín, Frómista

In Romanesque sculpture, the demonization of sexuality in the depiction of the sexual organs is visually crude to the point of grotesque distortion. In one site in San Martín in Frómista (Province of Palencia) is a phallus man, whose penis has been drastically extended to the thickness of his arm.

Statues at the springing of the vaults 1150-75 Stone Old Cathedral, Salamanca

Statues at the springing of the vaults
1150-75
Stone
Old Cathedral, Salamanca

The capitals of Old Salamanca cathedral and the statues under the dome are elegant creations, whose Romanesque maturity reflects the considered assimilation of the production of Burgundy, Aquitaine, and Italy, and the whole tradition of regional sculpture.

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Sacred Sunday: 12th Century Mosaics in San Clemente, Rome

Interior view 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Interior view
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

The present church of San Clemente was constructed to replace the Early Christian basilica from the 4th century. It was built by the cardinal and priest of San Clemente, Anastasius, who is documented between 1102 and 1125, and it rises above its predecessors’s centre and left side aisles.

The structure was completed and consecrated around 1118-19. The mosaic decoration of the apse is generally dated to this time. However, recent studies suggest a a considerably later date in the 1130s.

The mosaic in San Clemente was the first great apse mosaic to have been produced in Rome in roughly two hundred years. It incorporated any number of familiar motifs from Early Christian mosaics, but combined them with distinctly medieval pictorial elements to create a new synthesis.

Overall view of the apse 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Overall view of the apse
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

The central motif in the apse mosaic is a Crucifixion, with Mary and John the Evangelist flanking the cross and turned toward it in mourning. The cross is rooted in a large acanthus bush, and in a dark blue clearly stands out against the gold ground. Twelve white doves, pictured in profile, adorn the cross as symbols of the apostles.

The vines leading out from the acanthus bush uncurl into a total of fifty round volutes across the entire surface of the calotte. Four rivers of paradise appear beneath the acanthus bush, two stags drink from them; and various kinds of birds, including peacocks are depicted. All these motifs are derived from Early Christian iconography.

At the outer ends of the base strip stand the familiar depictions of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Twelve lambs emerged from them to flank the Lamb of Christ in friezelike rows.

The mosaic in San Clemente was the first great apse mosaic to have been produced in Rome in roughly two hundred years. It incorporated any number of familiar motifs from Early Christian mosaics, but combined them with distinctly medieval pictorial elements to create a new synthesis.

Apse mosaic (detail) 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Apse mosaic (detail)
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

The church of San Clemente was rebuilt over the buried remnants of the destroyed old basilica on the order of pope Pascal II in 1110. The rich furnishings of the church reflected the formal repertoire of early Christian churches. Many of the erstwhile were integrated in the new project. The mosaic representing the Cross of Life is one of the new works. Its gleaming blue recalls the art of “email”, or baked enamel. Mary and John flank the upright of the cross, at whose foot emerge the four rivers of paradise. Twelve white doves embodying the Apostles perch on the joist and crossbeam.

Apse mosaic (detail) 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Apse mosaic (detail)
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

Apse mosaic (detail) 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Apse mosaic (detail)
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

The cross is rooted in a large acanthus bush, and in a dark blue clearly stands out against the gold ground. Four rivers of paradise appear beneath the acanthus bush, two stags drink from them; and various kinds of birds, including peacocks are depicted.

Apse mosaic (detail) 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Apse mosaic (detail)
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

The vines leading out from the acanthus bush uncurl into a total of fifty round volutes across the entire surface of the calotte. Some of the spandrels between the volutes are filled with small figures. In the lower section these include the Latin church fathers Gregory, Jerome, Augustine and Ambrose, who are identified by name. They are dressed as monks and hold open books. Also strewn among the vine’s branches are numerous birds and other ornamental elements like decorative flowers, oil lamps, baskets of fruit, and vases.

Rural scenes – a woman feeding hens and their chicks, shepherds with their herds of sheep and goat – appear on the strip of ground beyond the peacocks on either side.

Apse mosaic (detail) 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Apse mosaic (detail)
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

Apsidal arch (detail) 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Apsidal arch (detail)
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

In the upper section of the apsidal arch Christ appears as World Ruler in a round aureole. At the bottom of the spandrels the two prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, holding bands of inscription, gaze directly upward at the image of Christ. The picture shows the prophet Isaiah.

Apsidal arch (detail) 1130s Mosaic San Clemente, Rome

Apsidal arch (detail)
1130s
Mosaic
San Clemente, Rome

In the upper section of the apsidal arch Christ appears as World Ruler in a round aureole. Below Christ, Sts Peter and Clement sit enthroned.

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Sacred Sunday: 16th Century Architecture

Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, 1502, by Bramante. This small temple marks the place where St Peter was put to death.

Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, 1502, by Bramante. This small temple marks the place where St Peter was put to death.

By the 15th century, Gothic architecture in Christian building began to give way to a newer design – Renaissance architecture. This new wave of creativity in building design is considered to be the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe. It demonstrated a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, and if you remember your high school art appreciation class, Renaissance architecture followed Gothic architecture and was succeeded by Baroque architecture.

Developed first in Florence, with Filippo Brunelleschias one of its innovators, the Renaissance style quickly spread to other Italian cities. The style was carried to France, Germany, England, Russia and other parts of Europe at different dates and with varying degrees of impact.

Italy of the 15th century, and the city of Florence in particular, was home to the Renaissance. It is in Florence that the new architectural style had its beginning, not slowly evolving in the way that Gothic grew out of Romanesque, but consciously brought to being by particular architects who sought to revive the order of a past “Golden Age”. The scholarly approach to the architecture of the ancient coincided with the general revival of learning. A number of factors were influential in bringing this about.

Chiesa dell'Incoronata: Interior of the dome 1586-88 Photo Piazza Garibaldi, Sabbioneta

Chiesa dell’Incoronata: Interior of the dome
1586-88
Photo
Piazza Garibaldi, Sabbioneta

This church has an octagonal plan and is topped with a dome and contains the bronze mausoleum of Vespasian Gonzaga whom Leone Leoni (1509-1590) made a statue of in bronze, dressed as a Roman emperor.

Galleria degli Antichi: Exterior 1583-84 Photo Galleria degli Antichi, Sabbioneta

Galleria degli Antichi: Exterior
1583-84
Photo
Galleria degli Antichi, Sabbioneta

Galleria degli Antichi: Interior 1583-84 Photo Galleria degli Antichi, Sabbioneta

Galleria degli Antichi: Interior
1583-84
Photo
Galleria degli Antichi, Sabbioneta

Sabbioneta is about 30 kms north of Parma. Built in the 1580s, this Italian town is the work of Vespasiano Gonzaga. His plan was to create the ideal city and base it on the ideas of ancient Athens and Rome. When Vespasiano died this dream died with him. The Galleria degli Antichi was built between 1584 and 1586 by Duke Vespasiano for his collection which contained mostly ancient marbles purchased from collectors and dealers of Rome and Venice.

Palazzo Albrizzi 1590s Photo Rio di San Cassiano, Venice

Palazzo Albrizzi
1590s
Photo
Rio di San Cassiano, Venice

This palace, built in the 16th century in Venetian Gothic style (at that time becoming an outated and misplaced style), overlooks the canal San Cassiano at the Ponte delle Tette. On the façade there is a three-mullioned central arched window, flanked by pairs of single lancet windows with projecting stone cornices which act as a small roof.

Between 1690 and 1710 the interior space was totally redefined with an excessive use of decoration and stucco-work, which makes the palace one of the most ostentatious in Venice.

San Giovanni a Carbonara: Cappella Caracciolo di Vico 1516 Photo Via San Giovanni, Naples

San Giovanni a Carbonara: Cappella Caracciolo di Vico
1516
Photo
Via San Giovanni, Naples

The Cappella Caracciolo di Vico has a central plan and is covered by a dome. This is one of the most notable products of the architecture of the sixteenth century in southern Italy. Begun in 1499 and completed in 1516, this is a remarkable structure, with great equilibrium among its various elements, revealing, at a very early date, the presence in Naples of the earliest forms of the Roman Renaissance. The design should be ascribed to an architect who was well informed concerning the work then being done by Bramante and Sangallo. The tombs of Nicolantonio and Galeazzo Caracciolo is the work of Annibale Caccavello (1515-1595) and Giovanni Domenico d’Auria (d. 1573).

Italian architects had always preferred forms that were clearly defined and structural members that expressed their purpose. Many Tuscan Romanesque buildings demonstrate these characteristics, as seen in the Florence Baptistery and Pisa Cathedral.

Italy had never fully adopted the Gothic style of architecture. Apart from the Cathedral of Milan, (influenced by French Rayonnant Gothic), few Italian churches show the emphasis on vertically, the clustered shafts, ornate tracery and complex ribbed vaulting that characterize Gothic in other parts of Europe.

The presence, particularly in Rome, of ancient architectural remains showing the ordered Classical style provided an inspiration to artists at a time when philosophy was also turning towards the Classical.

Renaissance style places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts as they are demonstrated in the architecture of classical antiquity and in particular ancient Roman architecture, of which many examples remained. Orderly arrangements of columns, pilasters and lintels, as well as the use of semicircular arches, hemispherical domes, niches and aedicules replaced the more complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings.

Next week, we head to Rome for 12th century mosaics of the church San Clemente on Sacred Sunday.

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Sacred Sunday: 15th Century Architecture, Part 2 of 2

This is the final part of a two-part series on 15th century architecture. While last week focused on Italy, this part will bring you various structures in Great Britain and mainland Europe. Some architecture is Christian in nature; others were inspired by such design or were designed and built by those associated with 15th century Gothic cathedrals and churches.

Exterior view 1446-1515 Photo King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England

Exterior view
1446-1515
Photo
King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England

King’s College Chapel is the chapel to King’s College of the University of Cambridge, and it is considered one of the finest examples of late Perpendicular Gothic English architecture. The chapel was built in phases by a succession of kings of England from 1446 to 1515, a period which spanned the Wars of the Roses. The chapel’s large stained glass windows were not completed until 1531, and its early Renaissance rood screen was erected in 1532–36.

The picture shows the King’s College Chapel (partially obscured by the Gibbs’ Building), seen from the Backs (a picturesque area where several colleges of the University of Cambridge back on to the River Cam).

Side view 1446-1515 Photo King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England

Side view
1446-1515
Photo
King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England

Interior view 1466-1515 Photo King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England

Interior view
1466-1515
Photo
King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England

During the 14th and 15th centuries Gothic architecture ceased to be international and split into definable regional styles. In England the first Gothic style (Early English) was succeeded by Decorated and Perpendicular styles. The King’s College Chapel, shown here, represents the Perpendicular style at its most lavish, with vast windows divided by grid-like mullions and that uniquely English speciality, the fan-vault.

Interior view 1466-1515 Photo King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England

Interior view
1466-1515
Photo
King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England

View of the fan-vault 1466-1515 Photo King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England

View of the fan-vault
1466-1515
Photo
King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England

Exterior view 1490-1512 Photo Cathedral, Sens, France

Exterior view
1490-1512
Photo
Cathedral, Sens, France

The Sens Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Sens) was one of the earliest Gothic buildings in France, and the largest of the early Gothic churches. The choir was begun in 1140. As was typical in cathedral construction, work progressed westwards, building the nave, with the west front completed around 1200. The structure was finally completed in the 16th century.

During the 14th and 15th centuries Gothic architecture ceased to be international and split into definable regional styles. In France, this is characterized by its curvilinear, flame-like window tracery – hence the name Flamboyant.

Exterior view 1490-1512 Photo Cathedral, Sens, France

Exterior view
1490-1512
Photo
Cathedral, Sens, France

The picture shows the south transept with its huge Flamboyant window.

Town Hall 1448-65 Photo Grote Markt, Leuven, Belgium

Town Hall
1448-65
Photo
Grote Markt, Leuven, Belgium

Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium. It is located about 25 kilometres east of Brussels, close to other neighboring towns such as Mechelen, Aarschot, Tienen, and Wavre.

The first stone of the Town Hall was laid in 1439, the designer was the architect Sulpitius Van der Vorst. He died shortly afterwards and architect Keldermans continued his work. When Keldermans died in 1445 a third architect, Mathijs de Layens, continued the construction from 1448 until 1468. It was Mathijs de Layens who gave the flamboyant Gothic look to the building. He is therefore also considered the creator of the town hall.

This building is a superb display of decorative sculpture.

Belfry
completed 1486
Photo
Cloth Hall, Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium, is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Its port, Zeebrugge, is an important center for fishing and European trade. The city-center Markt features horse-drawn carriage rides and 17th-century houses converted into restaurants and cafes, as well as the 13th-century belfry with its 47-bell carillon and 83 meter (272 foot) tower with panoramic views. The immensely tall  belfry dwarfs the surrounding buildings.

The belfry of Bruges is a medieval bell tower in the historical center of Bruges. It is one of the city’s most prominent symbols. It was added to the market square around 1240, when Bruges was prospering as an important center of the Flemish cloth industry. After a devastating fire in 1280, the tower was largely rebuilt. The octagonal upper stage of the belfry was added between 1483 and 1486.

Main ward of the hospital c. 1450 Photo Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune, France

Main ward of the hospital
c. 1450
Photo
Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune, France

The Hôtel-Dieu was founded on 4 August 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, the Duke’s Chancellor, and his wife Guigone de Salins, when Burgundy was ruled by Duke Philip the Good. It was intended to be a refuge for the poor. The main ward, called the Room of the Poors, measures 50x14x16 meters. On the ceiling, the exposed painted frame is in an upside down boat-skiff shape and in each beam are sculpted caricatures of some important Beaune inhabitants. The pieces of furniture were brought together in 1875 by the son in law of the architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. Each bed could welcome two patients.

The hospital at Beaune is one of the largest and best preserved of medieval hospitals. Originally there would have been simply rows of beds without canopies.

Beaune is the wine capital of Burgundy in the Côte d’Or department in eastern France. It is located between Paris and Geneva.

Old Town Hall: Clock c. 1410 Photo Old Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic

Old Town Hall: Clock
c. 1410
Photo
Old Town Hall, Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, and is nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires.” It is known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, with a popular show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with 30 statues of saints.

The fantastic clock on the Old Town Hall of Prague was made by Magister Hanus, the university astronomer. The big outer ring, with Arabic numbers, relates to the Bohemian 24-hour day (which began at sunset), and the face with Roman numerals to the motions of the stars and planets. The smaller ring shows the position of the sun and moon in the Zodiac. At the top, at each hour, the mechanical figures of the Apostles, Death and allegorical Virtues process out of one opening and into another.

The mechanism of the clock was renewed in the 16th century and its face had been restored on a number of occasions in later times.

Next week, we return to Italy for 16th Century Architecture for Sacred Sunday.

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Sacred Sunday: 15th Century Architecture, Part 1 of 2

This post begins a two-part series on 15th Century Architecture. Today’s focus will be on Italy. While not all were cathedrals, as some were private residences (even a bank), most were at one time or another used for places and centers of worship. While many of these structures were designed by unknown architects, many of the artisans used were the same who plied their talents at many of Italy’s well-known churches and cathedrals.

Sant'Eustorgio: Interior of the Cappella Portinari 1462-68 Photo Piazza Sant'Eustorgio, Milan

Sant’Eustorgio: Interior of the Cappella Portinari
1462-68
Photo
Piazza Sant’Eustorgio, Milan

Pigallo Portinari was the branch manager of the Medici Bank in Milan. He supervised the construction of a burial chapel for his family at the church of Sant’Eustorgio. Its Florentine and specifically Medici-associated patronage is evident in its plan and elevation, which consciously recall the Old Sacristy at San Lorenzo in Florence. However, there are significant alterations to both the proportions and the decoration.

In deference to Milanese traditions, the architect inserted a drum under the dome, increasing the height and providing a field in which polychromed terracotta angels dance and swing heavily laden festoons. The delight in color, so different from Brunelleschi’s spare, bichromatic scheme, continues in the vault, where frescoes simulate multiple rings of red, yellow, green, and blue overlapping tiles. The sequence of colours is that codified by Dominicans in the early fourteenth century as constituting the rainbow: a heavenly vision for Pigello, who was buried in the floor directly under the dome.

Sant'Eustorgio: Dome of the Cappella Portinari 1462-68 Photo Piazza Sant'Eustorgio, Milan

Sant’Eustorgio: Dome of the Cappella Portinari
1462-68
Photo
Piazza Sant’Eustorgio, Milan

Basilica di Sant'Antonio: Chiostro del Noviziato 1450-1500 Photo Piazza del Santo, Padua

Basilica di Sant’Antonio: Chiostro del Noviziato
1450-1500
Photo
Piazza del Santo, Padua

The name of the Chiostro del Noviziato (Noviciate Courtyard) comes from the fact that the novices’ rooms are located along one side. It was created in the latter half of the fifteenth century in a Gothic style.

Arsenale Gateway 1457-60 Photo Arsenale, Venice

Arsenale Gateway
1457-60
Photo
Arsenale, Venice

The gateway into Venice’s great shipyard, the Arsenale, is an early demonstration of the influence of the antique in Venetian architecture. This grand portal, topped with a huge representation of the lion of the republic, is intended to express the importance of Venice as a marine power. The arched entrance, flanked by columns on high bases, is a reference to the ancient Roman triumphal arches.

The architect of this example of symbolic architecture is unknown.

The Venetian shipyard was perhaps the largest industrial complex in Europe at this time, it employed several thousand men in a system which has been compared to modern production line. The gateway has been enriched with later additions, including the female saint at the peak of the pediment, the bronze doors, the enclosed terrace in front of its statuary, and the lions to either side.

Arsenale Gateway 1457-60 Photo Arsenale, Venice

Arsenale Gateway
1457-60
Photo
Arsenale, Venice

The entrance to the huge Arsenal complex is thought to be the first Renaissance work in Venice. The central arch is surmounted by the lion of St Mark; the statue on the tympanum is Justice by Girolamo Campagna.

Palazzo Loredan dell'Ambasciatore: Façade c. 1450 Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Loredan dell’Ambasciatore: Façade
c. 1450
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This palace was built around the middle of the 15th century in late Gothic style. The upper floor is adorned with a four-mullioned window, with large quatrefoil elements. A projecting balcony is decorated with an elegant baluster held up by consoles. On the higher floor there is another open four-lancet window, with a small gallery set back from the façade. All Gothic windows are surrounded by dentate frames and pendentives on the spires. On the façade, between the side windows on the upper floor, there are two statues of shield-holding page-boys, placed inside marble niches in Renaissance style.

Palazzo Bembo: Façade 15th century Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Bembo: Façade
15th century
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This building is one of the examples of combined houses along the Canal Grande. The current building is the result of a total reconstruction during the 15th century (incorporating the pre-existing 11th-century Byzantine building) and of modifications carried out in the 17th century. The façade, closed by spiral columns and quoins, is wider than it is tall, following a symmetrical arrangement on the vertical median axis, which seems to carry the two central five lancet windows, united only subsequently by a continuous balcony, evidence of the joining of two aristocratic houses.

Palazzo Bernardo: Façade c. 1442 Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Bernardo: Façade
c. 1442
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This palace was built for two families belonging to the Bernardo house. The two water gates and the two main floors (one of which is less important than the other) of the homogeneous façade indicate that the interior is actually divided into two dwellings. The façade is framed with vertical bands of hewn stones alternating with small spiral columns and dominated by the big six-mullioned window on the second floor flanked by single light windows with interesting openwork and intertwined arches.

Palazzo Morosini Brandolin: Façade 1400-20 Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Morosini Brandolin: Façade
1400-20
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

The palace, overlooking the Canal Grande opposite Ca’ d’Oro, was built by the Morosini family at the beginning of the 15th century. The façade has two upper floors characterised by two six-lancet windows with magnificent cornices. The light window on the first floor has rosettes at the tops of the arches and a projecting balcony resting on corbels, while the second floor window is decorated with openwork quatrefoils between the arches. At the corner ashlar-work in Istria stone of alternating size and twisted columns close the façade.

Palazzo Centani: Façade 15th century Photo San Polo, Venice

Palazzo Centani: Façade
15th century
Photo
San Polo, Venice

A recent and radical restoration allowed the original Gothic building to be recovered. It is typical of Venetian residential architecture in the 15th century. The façade, with uncovered brickwork, bends in order to follow the course of the canal and centres on the four-lancet window with extended columns and round arches, flanked by single light windows framed by dentate surround.

Carlo Goldoni, the Venetian playwright was born here in 1707.

Palazzo Centani: Façade 15th century Photo San Polo, Venice

Palazzo Centani: Façade
15th century
Photo
San Polo, Venice

Palazzo Falier Canossa: Façade c. 1450 Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Falier Canossa: Façade
c. 1450
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

The current appearance of the palace is due to the modifications made to the original Gothic style in the middle of the 15th century. The façade is organized in an unusual way, two picturesque avant-corps flank the central pointed arch five-mullioned window.

Palazzo Contarini Fasan: Façade 1470s Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Contarini Fasan: Façade
1470s
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This palace represents a unique example of late Gothic Venetian architecture at the end of the 15th century. Its small façade is confined between denticulate corner bands with Istria stone quoins alongside small spiral columns and displays balance in terms of its proportions and symmetry. The marble capitals and the balconies decorated with round wheel openwork are interesting for their sober richness and prestigious fret work.

The name of the palace is due to the presumed passion of one of its owners for hunting of pheasants.

Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei: Façade 1490s Photo Campo San Beneto, Venice

Palazzo Pesaro degli Orfei: Façade
1490s
Photo
Campo San Beneto, Venice

This large palace, isolated from other buildings in the area, was built around the end of the 15th century by the powerful Pesaro family. It has three façades: one faces onto Campo San Beneto, which is one of the most complex in the Gothic Venetian period, the other onto Calle Pesaro, and the last onto the Ca’ Michiel canal.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the palace was acquired by the Spanish painter Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo who created his art studio here.

Ca' Foscari: Façade 1450s Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Ca’ Foscari: Façade
1450s
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This palace is the result of a reconstruction in Gothic style ordered by Francesco Foscari in 1452. Francesco Foscari was elected as Doge in 1423, his period in office was the longest in the history of Venice.

The façade is characterized by the “inflationary” use of windows with pointed arches which we can also note in the adjacent Palazzo Giustinian. It is marked by the large central square which encloses the two large eight-lancet windows of the upper floors. Continuous balconies act as the base for small marble columns of different colours. The second floor offers an impressive white marble engraved band representing the Foscari coat-of-arms and a majestic helmet symbolizing the doge’s authority of the founder of the palace.

Palazzo Giustinian Morosini: Façade c. 1474 Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Giustinian Morosini: Façade
c. 1474
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This late Gothic building is characterized by two upper floors with large windows surrounded by denticulate frames. Along the coping there is a balustrade occupying the entire terrace, including and joining together the building which was subsequently added, originally separated from the main building by a narrow street, closed probably in 1483 by a wall with superimposed arches.

The pictures above and below show the Gothic façade on Canal Grande.

Palazzo Giustinian Morosini: Façade c. 1474 Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Giustinian Morosini: Façade
c. 1474
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Pisani Gritti: Façade c. 1450 Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Pisani Gritti: Façade
c. 1450
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This palace was constructed around the middle of the 15th century. In the 19th century it was subjected to radical modernization work and transformed into a luxury hotel.

The façade on the Canal Grande is marked by two five-lancet windows surrounded by dentate frames. The first floor has projecting balconies both for the main five-lancet and the lateral windows. The corners of the façade, as was typical in Gothic Venetian buildings, are marked by Istria stone quoins in different sizes, and by twisted columns. The façade was decorated with frescoes by Giorgione, but unfortunately they have completely disappeared.

Palazzo Pisani Moretta: Façade 1440-60 Photo Canal Grande, Venice

Palazzo Pisani Moretta: Façade
1440-60
Photo
Canal Grande, Venice

This palace was built around the middle of the 15th century in typical Venetian late Gothic style. The façade is made up of the ground floor, with a double water gate for the use of the palace by two families, and of two upper floors. (The balustrade and the addition of the last floor are modifications made in the 19th century.) The rigorous composition is characterized by the rich quatrefoil decorations of the two central six-lancet windows, recalling the windows of the Palazzo Ducale.

Palazzo Soranzo: Façade 15th century Photo Campo San Polo, Venice

Palazzo Soranzo: Façade
15th century
Photo
Campo San Polo, Venice

There are two Soranzo palaces on the Campo San Polo, known as the “Casa Vecchia” (on the left) and “Casa Nuova” (on the right), the two façades are today unified by a single coat of plaster. The palaces would appear to break the Venetian rule which establishes that the main façade of the building faces onto the canal: in fact the palaces did face onto the Sant’Antonio canal but this was covered over in 1761.

On the two façades elements of a stylistic transition from 14th-century forms to late-Gothic models can be seen. The oldest part of the building dates from the mid-1300s and, indeed, the multi-mullioned first-floor windows are certainly reminiscent of typical 14th-century models, even though the two portals surmounted by Romanesque sculptures would appear to date back to an even earlier time. The second building, which features a stunning window with eight supporting arches, is clearly 15th-century in style and was once decorated with much-admired frescos by Giorgione.

Palazzo Soranzo: Façade 15th century Photo Campo San Polo, Venice

Palazzo Soranzo: Façade
15th century
Photo
Campo San Polo, Venice

Palazzo Soranzo van Axel: Façade 1473-79 Photo Cannaregio, Venice

Palazzo Soranzo van Axel: Façade
1473-79
Photo
Cannaregio, Venice

This palace is one of the best conserved examples of a late Gothic two-family palazzo. The palazzo was built in 1473-79 by Nicolò Soranzo, with use of material of the predecessor Byzantine palace.

The layout and the front views are particularly unusual, because the palace is divided into two, each unit with rooms designed for two different families. There are therefore two entrances, both from land and water, two courtyards, two staircases, two wells, and obviously two façades. One façade faces onto the Panada canal, while the other looks out over the San Canciano canal, with two three-lancet windows in the centre.

The picture shows the façade on the San Canciano canal.

Palazzo Soranzo van Axel: Façade 1473-79 Photo Cannaregio, Venice

Palazzo Soranzo van Axel: Façade
1473-79
Photo
Cannaregio, Venice

Palazzo della Cancellaria completed c. 1511 Photo Piazza della Cancelleria, Roma

Palazzo della Cancellaria
completed c. 1511
Photo
Piazza della Cancelleria, Roma

This palace was commissioned by Cardinal Raffaele Riario. It was designed before 1489, the façade was probably completed by 1495, the palace was completed c. 1511. It is a colossal building, with a principal façade of about 90 m long. It is regarded as the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome. The architect of the palace is not known, the names of Bramante, Andrea Bregno, Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Baccio Pontelli are often connected with the building of the palace.

Palazzo della Cancellaria completed c. 1511 Photo Piazza della Cancelleria, Roma

Palazzo della Cancellaria
completed c. 1511
Photo
Piazza della Cancelleria, Roma

The Palazzo della Cancellaria is the most important – and certainly the most imposing – palace built in Rome during the late fifteenth century. It was commissioned by Cardinal Raffaello Riario and was designed before 1489, the façade probably completed by 1495, the entire palace completed c. 1511-13. When Cardinal Riario was discovered to have participated in a plot against Pope Leo X in 1516 he was forced to deed the palace to the papacy as part of his fine. The building was then used as offices for the papal chancellery, thus giving it its current name. The architect of the palace is unknown, the traditional attribution to Bramante and Andrea Bregno have been largely discredited, though many still attribute it to Bramante.

The palace’s finely dressed stone courses and rhythmic alternation of windows and pilasters recall Alberti’s Ruccelai Palace and the papal palace in Pienza. The slightly projecting bays at the ends help to give a sense of completion to the 92-meter façade. The great size, regular composition, and classicising decoration of this building, as well as its domination over the urban landscape, its creation of a piazza on its entrance façade, and its presence on the papal processional route, all made it a model for later Roman palaces.

Palazzo della Cancellaria (detail of the façade) completed c. 1511 Photo Piazza della Cancelleria, Roma

Palazzo della Cancellaria (detail of the façade)
completed c. 1511
Photo
Piazza della Cancelleria, Roma

Next week, the second and final part of 15th Century Architecture.

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Sacred Sunday: 14th Century Cathedral Architecture

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari: Interior begun c. 1330 Photo Campo dei Frari, Venice

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari: Interior
begun c. 1330
Photo
Campo dei Frari, Venice

The great Franciscan church of the Frari was begun in about 1330, replacing the earlier church which stood on the site of the nave of the present one. Its construction took more than a century. The tall campanile, second only to that of San Marco, was completed in 1396. The presbytery, choir, and transepts must have been erected by the 1410s, and the nave was built last after the demolition of the previous church.

The high altar was dedicated in 1469, just after the installation of the ornate wooden choir stalls with their Gothic canopies embellished with perspective intarsia scenery the time that the stone pulpitum was completed by Pietro Lombardo in 1475, the Gothic style had already been superseded by an elegant early Renaissance classicism. Titian’s famous Assumption, executed in 1516-18 for the high altar, provides the final unifying element in this dramatic artistic ensemble. The completed church was consecrated in 1492.

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari: Choir of the friars begun c. 1330 Photo Campo dei Frari, Venice

Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari: Choir of the friars
begun c. 1330
Photo
Campo dei Frari, Venice

The picture shows a view of the choir toward the entrance wall.

Palazzo Ariani: Façade 1350-1400 Photo Rio dell'Angelo Raffaele, Venice

Palazzo Ariani: Façade
1350-1400
Photo
Rio dell’Angelo Raffaele, Venice

The palace of the Ariani family was reconstructed during the second half of the 14th century in a unique style. The six-mullioned window, perfectly framed by the indented frieze, is not linked to any architectural sequence, while the section made up of three columns and two pillars and the parapets are part of the Venetian tradition, the innovation lies in the filling of the upper band above the windows. An uncommon feature is the wooden architrave at the corner, creating a low portico held up by columns which look out over the courtyard from which the external two-flight staircase departs.

The design is attributed to a stone-worker architect coming from the outside environment.

The picture shows the Gothic façade on Rio dell’Angelo Raffaele.

Palazzo Priuli all'Osmarin: Façade 1300-10 Photo Fondamenta de l'Osmarin, Venice

Palazzo Priuli all’Osmarin: Façade
1300-10
Photo
Fondamenta de l’Osmarin, Venice

The palace is a typical product of Venetian Gothic art, built at the beginning of the 14th century for the Priuli family which gave three doges and numerous cardinals, magistrates and generals to the city. It faces onto the Osmarin canal, but in the 15th century it was extended along the San Severo canal. The beautiful two-lancet corner windows were constructed during this time.

The façade facing onto the canal was completely covered with frescoes by Palma Vecchio, but unfortunately they have completely disappeared.

The picture shows the palace on Rio dell’Osmarin.

Palazzo Ariani: Façade (detail) 1350-1400 Photo Rio dell'Angelo Raffaele, Venice

Palazzo Ariani: Façade (detail)
1350-1400
Photo
Rio dell’Angelo Raffaele, Venice

Palazzo Dandolo: Façade 14th century Photo Riva dei Schiavoni, Venice

Palazzo Dandolo: Façade
14th century
Photo
Riva dei Schiavoni, Venice

The Palazzo Dandolo was built in the 14th century in Gothic style. In 1822 the palace was purchased by Giuseppe dal Niel, known as Danieli, who transformed it into what is today considered one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, the Hotel Danieli. The interior of the hotel was decorated in neo-medieval style by Tranquillo Orsi.

Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici 1375-1434 Photo Piazza Grande, Arezzo

Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici
1375-1434
Photo
Piazza Grande, Arezzo

The Fraternità was endowed in 1262 for the purposes of Christian charity. Its building was planned in 1363, the centenary year of the confraternity. Building work started in 1375 by two Florentine stone-workers, Niccolò di Francesco and Baldino di Cino.

In 1384 the construction came to a stop because of lack of funds. The building of the walls started again in 1434. Bernardo Rossellino continued the façade in a Renaissance style that fits admirably with the Gothic first floor. The gallery was added in 1460 by Giuliano and Algozzo from Settignano. The vaulted campanile, designed by Vasari, was built hundred years later.

The picture shows the façade of the Fraternità (right) and the Palazzo del Tribunale (left).

Interior view c. 1310 Photo Cathedral, Exeter

Interior view
c. 1310
Photo
Cathedral, Exeter

The present building was complete by about 1400, and has several notable features, including an early set of misericords, an astronomical clock and the longest uninterrupted vaulted ceiling in England.

During the 14th and 15th centuries Gothic architecture ceased to be international and split into definable regional styles. In England, the first Gothic style (Early English) was succeeded by Decorated and Perpendicular styles. The nave of Exeter Cathedral, shown here, exemplifies the English Decorated style, the piers formed of thick clusters of shafts, the vaulting-ribs multiplied so that eleven spring from one point.

Exterior view 14th century Photo Cathedral, Canterbury

Exterior view
14th century
Photo
Cathedral, Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the twelfth century, and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170.

The Norman nave and transepts survived until the late fourteenth century, when they were demolished to make way for the present structures. From the late fourteenth century the nave and transepts were rebuilt, on the Norman foundations in the Perpendicular style under the direction of the noted master mason Henry Yevele.

Exterior view 14th century Photo Cathedral, Canterbury

Exterior view
14th century
Photo
Cathedral, Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. Founded in 597, the cathedral was completely rebuilt from 1070 to 1077. The east end was greatly enlarged at the beginning of the twelfth century, and largely rebuilt in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, with significant eastward extensions to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170.

The Norman nave and transepts survived until the late fourteenth century, when they were demolished to make way for the present structures. From the late fourteenth century the nave and transepts were rebuilt, on the Norman foundations in the Perpendicular style under the direction of the noted master mason Henry Yevele.

Next week, a two-part series begins – 15th Century Architecture.

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Sacred Sunday: 13th Century French and German Cathedral Architecture

Exterior view begun 1225 Photo Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Exterior view
begun 1225
Photo
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Saint Peter’s of Beauvais (Beauvais Cathedral) symbolizes the height of architectural endeavor in Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages. Ambitious and gravity-defying, the cathedral boasts the record for the highest ceiling in a Gothic choir in the Christendom (48.50m).

The cathedral also shows the ambition of the builders who were unable to complete it. Starting construction in 1225, the cathedral was meant to be the greatest church in the kingdom but over the centuries construction experienced many problems and structural collapses. What exists today – the choir and the transept – is impressive enough for us to dare to imagine what the finished project would have been.

The vault collapsed in 1284 and had to be rebuilt, supported by a dense cluster of flying buttresses.

Exterior view begun 1225 Photo Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Exterior view
begun 1225
Photo
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Interior view begun 1225 Photo Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Interior view
begun 1225
Photo
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Beauvais

Exterior view after 1254 Photo Cathedral, Reims

Exterior view
after 1254
Photo
Cathedral, Reims

Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims) is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. That original structure had itself been erected on the site of some Roman baths.

With its Radiant Gothic façade of unequaled dimensions, its interior characterized by soaring vertical heights, the richness of its sculpture and the technical quality of its construction, the Cathedral of Reims remains one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic art.

Unusually the names of the cathedral’s original architects are known. A labyrinth built into floor of the nave at the time of construction or shortly after included the names of four master masons (Jean d’Orbais, Jean-Le-Loup, Gaucher de Reims and Bernard de Soissons).

The picture shows the west façade of the cathedral. here everything is subordinated to aesthetic unity and upward movement, including window tracery and sculpture. Work on the west façade took place in several phases, which is reflected in the very different styles of some of the sculptures. The upper parts of the façade were completed in the 14th century, but apparently following 13th century designs, giving Reims an unusual unity of style.

Interior view after 1254 Photo Cathedral, Reims

Interior view
after 1254
Photo
Cathedral, Reims

Interior view after 1254 Photo Cathedral, Reims

Interior view
after 1254
Photo
Cathedral, Reims

Exterior view c. 1230 Photo Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Laon

Exterior view
c. 1230
Photo
Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Laon

The Cathedral of Laon (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Laon), in the Picardy region of France, dates from the 12th century. Laon Cathedral is known for its imposing towers, its beautiful Gothic architecture, and its importance as a major stop on the medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago in Spain.

Construction on the Cathedral began around 1160, on the site of an ancient basilica that had burned down in 1111 during an insurrection. The new cathedral was completed in 1230. The second half of the 13th century saw the start of work on the side chapels. Considerable reconstruction was done in the early 14th century on the south and north façades.

The picture shows the west front of the Cathedral which retains a certain Romanesque solidity and depth.

Interior view c. 1230 Photo Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Laon

Interior view
c. 1230
Photo
Cathédrale Notre-Dame, Laon

The picture shows the nave in four tiers, with clerestories, triforium and tribune under sexpartite vaulting.

Lavatorium 13th century Photo Monastery, Maulbronn

Lavatorium
13th century
Photo
Monastery, Maulbronn

Maulbronn Monastery in Baden-Württemberg is the best-preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe. The monastery was founded in 1147 under the auspices of the first Cistercian pope, Eugenius III. The main church, built in a style transitional from Romanesque to Gothic, was consecrated in 1178 by Arnold, Bishop of Speyer. A number of other buildings – infirmary, refectory, cellar, auditorium, porch, south cloister, hall, another refectory, forge, inn, cooperage, mill, and chapel – followed in the course of the 13th century.

Outside the refectory stood the ‘lavatorium’ or washing place, a fountain.

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