Romanesque and Gothic styles

Romanesque and Gothic styles

Between art and history

In modern traditional definition of Romanesque (XII century) and Gothic (thirteenth-fourteenth centuries) styles in works of art of the West after 1000 years there is the opposition of two models of civilizations: with a positive sign is Ancient Rome, with a negative — “barbarians”. This design was based on the completely biased and unreasonable inferences: the term “romance” originated in the last century, when scientists became interested in establishing Parallels between the birth policinski, or “Romanesque”, languages and contemporary art; the definition of “Gothic” was used in the Renaissance in the same meaning as “medieval”, with contempt and a desire to “turn the page”, to indicate a long period between the loss and the return of the classic values. Despite

the fact that today this opposition is absent, his legacy remains a clear distinction between the two first and two subsequent centuries of the second Millennium. For this reason, there is a need for some clarification.

The distribution area of the Romanesque style was much wider than the region of the penetration of Roman civilization and formation of the romance languages. Indeed, considerable traces of Roman influence observed and England, in the Germanic, Scandinavian and Slavic lands.

With chronological the point of view of the distance between the Romanesque and Gothic styles rather spatial than temporal: the South of Europe PA really only partly and at a later time assimilated the new style, while the North has cultivated one hundred a long time after the fourteenth century.

The Gothic Cathedral Spin Etienne in Bourges (1192 year)

A fragment of stained glass with scenes from the life of Paul the Apostle (XIII century) in the Cathedral of Metz. Due to successful development of glass industry, the builders of Gothic cathedrals had the opportunity to withdraw large areas for light penetration and to make the walls lighter in comparison to the Romanesque cathedrals. Decorative stained glass needed for lighting the interior space of the Church building is not so much in the Sun-drenched Mediterranean countries, but in cold and rainy countries of the North: this explains, at least in part, the preservation of the Romanesque style in southern and fast flowering of the Gothic style in Northern countries.

The Cathedral is the building of a comprehensive character that expresses the concept of God, of nature, of art, of man, his role and its influence in the world. This understanding was implemented in buildings of the Romanesque style, and then continued in the cathedrals of the Gothic style. Throughout Europe spread typical of the Romanesque style strict concept of space, organized in accordance with the distribution of masses and volumes that require accurate calculation in the organization of surfaces to create the effect of a clear balance and proportionality.

Undoubted technical and structural differences between the Romanesque and the Gothic style cannot be considered in isolation from the changes taking place in the historical, social, religious, and social life. The Romanesque Cathedral expresses newfound material and spiritual confidence of the population of Europe after the nightmare the year 1000; strict religiosity; the ethics of labor and the onset of communal civilization, characterized newfound role of “citizen”. The Gothic Cathedral is being built in the period, when based national monarchy, establishing a new idea of the state; its presence in the urban space should be considered in conjunction with factors such as the formation of the wealthy bourgeoisie; the growth of the influence and authority of the monastic orders, particularly the Cistercians, or the knights Templar ; the religious ideal of the exaltation of the Earth to God, for the beauty and perfection of works of art could be a powerful incentive.

The Gothic style in the description of Giorgio Vasari

For Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), painter, architect and writer of the Renaissance, the definition of “Gothic” was synonymous with “barbarian”, as an expression of art obsolete, because it was contrary to classic proportions. Here’s what he wrote in the Biographies of the most famous painters, sculptors and architects of the Renaissance:

“Here is work of another kind, called German, in which the ornaments and proportions are radically different from ancient and modern. They are not only far from perfect, but now seem monstrous and barbaric, in all there is no order; rather they can be called (examples of) confusion or disorder, made at their factories, which have destroyed much in the world, doors are decorated with delicate curves and columns Built an ugly chapel (tabernacles), one above the other, with many pyramids and spires and leaves that […] it is unclear how to hold the balance; and so they seem to be made of paper, not of stone and marble.  This manner was invented by the Goths,  surrounded the arches pointed arches.

Faith and science, understood as knowledge, and the use of new construction technologies combined in the planning and building of the Gothic cathedrals which relied on new urban reality is not only spiritual, but also spatial nature. The decor here acquires an independent meaning in relation to bearing supports of the building, gets more freedom for composition. Romance of the sparkling crystal sea, and the strange deformity of some images in the early period of the middle Ages retreating before a pronounced realism; accuracy in details, particularly in the image of man, indicates the return to naturalism.

The heyday of the economy, weakening the threat of outside intrusion, contributed to the renewal of life cities located in places favorable long trade development; newfound financial opportunity was the stimulus for the construction of magnificent buildings: an example is the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Reims, capital of France’s champagne region, famous for its lively fairs, which flocked merchants from different areas. In addition to the active efforts of the local episcopate the city was known for the fact that it was the place of coronation of French kings. This ceremony included the use of Holy oil stored in the “inexhaustible lamp” of mysterious origin, the object of worship of believers, thanks to the wonderful properties of its contents. Large inner space is able to accommodate a huge number of believers, corresponding to the value of the local Church.

The statue of the virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth, located on the Central portal of Reims Cathedral.

Huge and numerous images that adorn the tympanum of the facade, reported to the people the truths of the faith with unprecedented immediacy to this; according to the historian Georges Duby, the credibility of this expressive sculpture is due to the fact that they reproduce the so-called sacred dramas, which in the course of the year the liturgical tradition used to canonical sermons of the content.

The example of Reims is no exception, but the constructive unity of the building, a perfect reproduction of the “Liturgy of light”, passing through a magnificent stained-glass Windows, the rapid and early completion of construction, and small (there were only four) the number of persons that it architects make the Reims Cathedral is one of the most important specimens of European Gothic, being at the same time, evidence of the turn in culture (in the XIII century) and the update of the economic and social context.

To decipher the connection between the new facilities and complex material basis for their creation, to try to discover the causes that required updating forms and spaces for the approval, means to unravel their secrets.

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