The Abbot Suger of St. Denis wanted to create a church that would be even greater than the famous Hagia Sophia Church in Constantinople. The Church of St.. Denis became a model for most of the late 12th-century French cathedrals, including those at Chartres and Senlis. Moving away from the low Romanesque style, it was the first large building to use the new vertical style known as Gothic . The earliest complete Gothic structure is the ambulatory of the abbey of Saint-Denis in France. Built between 1140 and 1144, the church became a model for most of the late 12th-century French cathedrals, including those at Chartres . However, features of the Gothic style are found in earlier buildings in Normandy and elsewhere.
In Bishop Suger’s mind, it was not wrong to glory god through visual riches, because it was possible (through these riches and the connection to God they provide) to transcend the mere beauty of the object, and become aware of the spiritual nature of the beauty. For Suger, all of the universe was lights, and every smaller light held some link to the True Light, the origin of all beauty – God Himself. And what nobler pursuit, than to glorify France, the king, and God with a church more beautiful than even the churches of Jerusalem? So it was that Suger undertook to bring the light of heaven into the church of St. Denis. He replaced the old single door on the west end of the church with three doors, to represent the Holy Trinity, and around these doors he had carvings made of biblical stories. Also, he put a brilliant stained glass rose window above the doors to flood the church with color and light. Next he rebuilt the apse at the other end of the church, using layers of columns and rib vaulting to make the heavy stonework appear to float, with no more weight than a canopy of leaves. Finally, towards the end of his life, he laid the groundwork for a renovation of the nave, but did not live to see if completed. This nave, upon its completion, featured high stained glass windows, flying buttresses, and every other feature of the new “Gothic” style. The style spread throughout France and into Spain, Germany, Britain, and Italy; Suger’s style, and the philosophy behind it, would dominate architecture for hundreds of years.
A Benedictine monk named Suger realized his life's dream of building an abbey that would have "the most radiant windows" which would "illuminate men's minds so that they may travel through apprehension of God's light." In his writings, Suger, Abbot of St. Denis from 1122 to 1151, equated Divine Light with the light that shimmered through the stained glass windows of his beloved abbey.
Early Gothic elevation Nave arcade Gallery Triforium Clerestory
Bishop Maurice de Sully started the construction in 1163. The Cathedral was to be built in the new gothic style and had to reflect Paris's status as the capital of the Kingdom France. It was the first cathedral built on a monumental scale and became the prototype for future cathedrals in France, like the cathedrals of Amiens, Chartres or Rheims, just to name the most famous. It took until 1345 before the cathedral was completed, partly because the design was enlarged during construction. The result is an overwhelming building, 130m long with two 69 meters tall towers. The spire, which reaches 90m, was added in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc. The Notre-Dame has several large rose windows, the northern 13th century window is the most impressive. It is 21 meters high. The spectacular eastern buttresses are 15m wide. The west side features 3 wide portals, the gallery of Kings and the famous gargoyles. During the Revolution, many of the cathedral's sculpture, gargoyles and interior was removed or demolished. Even the gallery of Kings was severely damaged. It wasn't until the 19th century before the Cathedral was fully restored by a Parisian architect, Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. It was restored again between 1991 and 2001
sexpartite rib vault : a rib vault which is divided into six sections. sexpartite rib vault: A rib vault whose surface is divided into six sections by three ribs.
Consecrated in 1030, it was completely finished in 1037. It consisted of an immense crypt, a vast nave without transept, 105 m long by 34 m wide, two towers, no vault but a wood-framed roof. On June 10th 1194, another fire devastated the city. The cathedral was almost entirely destroyed. Only the western-portion ( the towers and the façade, including the Royal portal ( hadn't been affected, even the stained-glass windows remained intact. This catastrophe provoked general consternation, as much in France as abroad. There answered a true spirit of collective solidarity. From kings to farmers, in Ile-de-France as in Champagne, Normandy, Burgundy and as in England (despite the war against Philip-Augustus, Richard the Lion Heart, a generous donator himself, let the collectors circulate freely), they organized collections and created fellowships. The wealthy came to deposit money and valuable objects into the Chartres Work fund, the artisans and countrymen sold what they could, objects, a sac of wheat or livestock. The enthusiasm of the people was so great for this reconstruction of the cathedral that the countrymen of entire villages hitched-up their carts in order to transport the stones, and came to bring the produce of their harvests to feed the builders for free ( for to work as quickly as possible required several teams of workers, stone-cutters, masons and carpenters, who lived and established their workshops where they could in the rubble of the burned city. Relics abound in the cathedral's medieval treasury and pilgrims flood into Chartres. The " Virgin's Chemise ", called today the " Veil of the Virgin ", a piece of silk five meters in length is the principal relic
The rebuilding of the cathedral meant the intact walls are Early Gothic while the new additions are High Gothic. The bays become more rectangular (rectangular bay system) And flanked by a square aisle. The use of flying buttresses made the gallery unnecessary.
Nave Arcade Triforium Clerestory
The stained-glass windows are the glory of Chartres. No other cathedral from the Middle Ages has been able to safeguard such a heritage: a hundred or so old windows dating for the most part from the beginning of the 13th century. Forming 106 picture windows in its entirety, 3 rose windows among them, the windows of the cathedral of Chartres cover a surface of 3,150 m2. With the exception of eight windows in the choir, installed during the 18th century, and the four windows of the transept destroyed in 1791, all of the windows of Chartres have been made during the Middle Ages. The stained-glass windows recount the rallying of donors for the reconstruction of the cathedral. Those of the lower floor were offered for the most part by craftsman guilds, butchers or cobblers, bakers or apothecaries, masons or moneychangers, which made these works a sort of commemorative plaque destined to support the prayers of a social group while at the same time ensuring a brilliant prestige. I n the woods in a winter afternoon one will see as readily the origin of the stained glass window, with which Gothic cathedrals are adorned, in the colors of the western sky seen through the bare and crossing branches of the forest. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Royal Portal in the west facade of the cathedral dates to the 1140s. In a rather atypical arrangement, all three doors have been condensed between the towers. The arrangement of the tympanum is quite different from that of earlier Romanesque tympana. Christ appears in majesty, as always, but rather than being surrounded by scenes of judgment, we have a less frightening approach. The symbols of the evangelists flank Christ, while the Elders of the Apocalypse have been pushed out the archivolts. In the lintel, the twelve apostles, along with a pair of prophets complete the composition. JAMB FIGURES Old Testament kings and queens line the facade.
Central doorway versus south trancept doorway
Amiens cathedral The cathedral of Notre-Dame at Amiens is the tallest complete cathedral in France. It represents the pinnacle of Gothic engineering, and was the last of the extremely tall buildings. (Paris' Notre Dame could fit inside it twice). It measures 145m in length, its archway 42m, and covers an area of 200,000 square meters, making it the world's largest gothic building.
The Saint-Pierre cathedral in Beauvais is the highest in the entire Christian world - 68 metres, 225 feet, high. Its interior attracts visitors too, with the highest choir (48.50m) in the world. Despite being incomplete - it has no nave - the church dedicated to Saint Pierre and Saint Paul has two quite separate parts. The tallest gothic chancel in the world rises almost 47 metres above ground. The transept, built three centuries later, is a masterpiece of flamboyant architecture with its two monumental façades. The feat of architect Martin Chambiges was to have skilfully harmonised both parts of the cathedral that suffered a number of disasters during its history.
In the history of this development, one building deserves special mention, the Sainte-Chapelle, Paris (consecrated 1248). This was Louis IX's palace chapel, built to house an imposing collection of relics. It is a Rayonnant building meaning in this period many of the great cathedrals were under construction; the builders became bolder and more proficient, emphasizing in every way the vertical elements of the structure. Light and soaring structural skeletons were erected, reducing the size of all supporting members; the enlargement of windows resulted in a drastic reduction of wall surfaces.
The most complete example of Early English is without a doubt to be seen at Salisbury Cathedral . Salisbury is unique in that it was built within a short time span (c1200-1275), thus its architectural style, with the exception of the 14th century tower and spire, is fairly uncluttered by later additions and alterations. Early English Gothic at a glance ~ also called "Lancet" and "First Pointed" style ~ Covers the period 1180-1275 ~ pointed arches ~ quadripartite ribbed vaults ~ lancet windows ~ clustered shafts of tall, narrow piers
The Cathedral hosts the tallest spire in England at 404 feet and it dominates the city. Many legends grew from the choice of the site to build the Cathedral; some say that the flight of an arrow shot by an archer from the ramparts of Old Sarum marked the place, another that the Virgin Mary appeared to Bishop Poore in a dream telling him to build in 'Mary's Field' which was the site selected, even though is was low-lying and marshy. Salisbury is one of the few Cathedrals built in the shape of a double cross with the arms of the transept branching off on either side. The cloisters are larger and older than any other of the English cathedrals. The spire was added 100 years after its consecration and its immense weight, some 6000 tons, meant much strengthening.
Decorated Gothic (1275-1375) - aka Geometric , Curvilinear , and Flamboyant - These terms describe primarily the fanciful tracery and ornamentation found in the window heads during this time. Windows were wider than the earlier lancet openings. This widening and the lessening in wall area that naturally accompanied it was made possible by the invention of the flying buttress. Improved vaulting techniques also helped take the strain of supporting the building's weight off the walls, which could then become little more than shells with broad window openings. Stone decoration was rich and varied, and window glass more colorful. Stone carvings and paintings abound. The best example of the Decorated period you can visit today is at Exeter Cathedral.
Windows were the "artist's palette" of the Perpendicular builders; because of advances in the use of the pointed arch and supporting elements such as the flying buttress, window openings could be extremely large, and builders took advantage of their opportunity to create huge expanses of glass separated by thin, curving stone tracery in ever more elaborate patterns. Window area was maximized, while wall area was minimized. The result is lofty, open interiors of extraordinary lightness and delicacy. King's College Chapel Perpendicular Gothic Architecture The style we know as Perpendicular Gothic is the final phase of Gothic architecture in England, after the Early English and Decorated periods, and it lasted by far the longest of the three periods, stretching from the late 14th until the early 16th century. As its name suggests, the chief characteristic of Perpendicular architecture is the emphasis on strong vertical lines, seen most markedly in window tracery and wall paneling. Roof vaulting became elaborate and ornate, with a multitude of vaulting ribs spreading outwards in a fan shape , ornamented with pendants and cross-ribs that served a purely decorative function. Perhaps the finest examples of Perpendicular fan vaulting survive at King's College Chapel, Cambridge (1446-1515), and Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster Cathedral (1503-1519). Perpendicular window
Chapel of Henry VII Westminister Abbey The Lady Chapel or Henry VII's chapel was begun in 1503 as a burial place for Henry VI, on the orders of King Henry VII, but it was Henry VII himself who was finally buried here in an elaborate tomb. The master mason who designed the chapel is unknown. The chapel is approached up a flight of stairs from the Ambulatory at the rear of the shrine. At its entrance is a finely wrought pair of bronze gates displaying royal Tudor badges. The great glory of this chapel - completed in 1519 is the vaulted roof, an outstanding example of this spectacular Tudor style of architecture . Gaily colored banners, crests and mantling of the Knights adorn the 16th century wooden stalls. .
This narrow, lofty, lengthy chapel is one of the great rooms in architecture. It radiates light: some two-thirds of each of its four walls are of stained glass, which fills all the space between the buttresses. The glass is not of a medieval richness but bright, with considerable clear or opaque panes ( grisaille) setting off the figures. (The chapel, dating several hundred years after the High Gothic—and built for a distinguished university—did not need to have its stained glass serve as 'book' for an unlettered congregation.)
Villard de Honnecourt is known only through a portfolio of 33 parchment leaves containing approximately 250 drawings preserved in Paris. There is no record of him in any known contract, guild register, inscription, payment receipt, tax record, or any other type of evidence from which the names of medieval artisans are learnt. Villard's fame is due to the uniqueness of his drawings. He addressed his portfolio, which he termed a "book," to no one in particular, saying (fol. 1v) that it contained "sound advice on the techniques of masonry and on the devices of carpentry . . . and the techniques of representation, its features as the discipline of geometry commands and instructs it." Most of the identifiable monuments he drew date in the first quarter of the 13th century.. It is unknown when and where he died. Villard traveled extensively, but we do not know why. If his drawings of architectural monuments prove that he actually visited these monuments, rather than that he knew some or all of them through drawings such as his own, he visited the cathedrals of Cambrai, Chartres, Laon, Meaux, Reims, and the abbey of Vaucelles in France; and the cathedral of Lausanne in Switzerland. Eventually, Honnecourt compiled a manual that gave precise instructions for executing specific objects with explanatory drawings. In his writings he fused principles passed on from ancient geometry, medieval studio techniques, and contemporary practices. The author includes sections on technical procedures, mechanical devices, suggestions for making human and animal figures, and notes on the buildings and monuments he had seen. He also offers insights into the variety of interests and work of the 13th-century master mason in addition to providing an explanation for the spread of Gothic architecture in Europe
Annunciation, central portal, west facade, Notre Dame, Reims, c.1245-55 Visitation, central portal, west facade, Notre Dame, Reims, c. 1230 Reims Cathedral , cathedral of Our Lady in the city of Reims, in the Champagne-Ardennes region of France, and considered one of the finest examples of the High Gothic style of architecture. Three portals, or doorways, on the west front are especially notable for their realistic carved sculpture in the High Gothic style. Long before the Renaissance period, ancient Greek and Roman aesthetic ideals were reborn in central France. In fact the evolution into a spatial and naturalistic sculptural style paralleled the revival of the classical canon. The development is illustrated by the west façade of Reims cathedral where the sculptural style appears to have broken with the hieratic tradition of Chartres. In the 'Visitation' group at Reims the ancient Greek pose is obvious but the drapery sticks unnaturally to the body (of which the contours are revealed) as if it were wet. The style culminates in the even more naturalistic 'Annunciation' group
Gabriel - after 1252, Second Champenois School
Mary - circa 1245, School influenced by Amiens
Mary - before 1240, School influenced by Antiquity
St. Elizabeth - before 1240, School influenced by Antiquity
The Gothic style took root more slowly in Germany than it did in either England or France and it was not until the thirteenth century that Early Gothic styles began to predominate. One of the reasons may be that few cathedrals were built in Germany at the time. The prevailing form was the hall church , or Hallenkirche, which was well suited to the simpler Romanesque style. High Gothic seemed out of place in the simple Hallenkirche . Nevertheless, elements of Gothic were implemented, resulting in the development of German Gothic. One of the outstanding characteristics of German Gothic is the fluidity and expansiveness of the interior space where no path of vision is dictated by structural lines. Begun in 1354, Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in Nuremberg is a Hallenkirche that demonstrates the German Gothic style.
St. Elizabeth, Marburg German High Gothic, 1233-1283
In Germany, the Gothic style until the end of the 13th century was at first heavily influenced by that of France. Many churches were built of brick, not of stone.
Strasbourg Cathedral. Death of the Virgin, from tympanum of south transept. c 1230 This Gothic Cathedral, built from 1190-1439, is dedicated to the Virgin (as many French Gothic cathedrals are). The double doorway of the south transept depicts in the tympana two scenes commonly used to honor her--her death and her coronation in Heaven. The lintels below (not pictured) depict her burial and assumption into heaven. According to the Golden Legend, the Virgin died at age 60, surrounded by the Apostles who had been miraculously transported to her deathbed from all parts of the world. Christ too, depicted with a halo, is in the center, prepared to take her soul (the small child in his hand) to Heaven. This lyrical scene depicts various figures in sorrow. Naturalism is returning. Emphasis on the awareness and the power expression of human suffering becomes a reoccurring theme.
“ Therefore I desired a bodily sight,
in which I might have more
knowledge of our Savior`s
bodily pains, and of the
compassion of our Lady.”
Julian of Norwich, 1st Chapter
We see not the serenity of the sculpted holy family and saints we have become accustomed to but the stunted body of Christ covered in blood. Mary cradles him while she grieves.
Count Eckhart and Uta c. 1245 Stone Cathedral, Naumburg Count Eckhart and Uta as well as Hermann and Renglendis were former patrons of the Church , although not contemporaries of the artist. By the mid-thirteenth century secular images had found their way into the cathedral. They are given unexpectedly dramatic poses, appearing to communicate with each other across the breadth of the church. Although they register a wide variety of different human types and different emotional states, the sculptors in general avoided the grotesque and the over-emphatic. Hermann and Reglindis c. 1245 Stone Cathedral, Naumburg
Bamberg Rider 1230-35 Stone Cathedral, Bamberg The Bamberg Rider, attached to a pier in Bamberg Cathedral in Germany, stands as a notable achievement of German Gothic sculpture. Carved in 1240, the Bamberg Rider is one of the first examples of free-standing, independent sculpture in Europe; until then most sculptures were dependent on their specific architectural setting. The horseman may be Conrad III, king of the Germans from 1138 to 1152. There is a seriousness reflected in this statue (and in others at Bamberg and Naumburg). This is a consequence of the feudal way of life: things may go well or ill for individuals, but nothing must disturb a society ordained by God and devoted to his service
The Gothic style of Italy stands apart from the rest of Europe, neither fitting the French definition of Gothic nor providing mere continuation from the Romanesque. In Italy, the Gothic style was strongly affected by the ideals of prevailing monastic orders. The Cistercians carried the first Gothic influences in Italy and cathedrals were patterned after the abbeys of the order, reflecting the harmony and balanced proportions of the typical Cistercian abbeys. The windows are smaller and the decorative detail simpler, in accord with Cistercian concepts of austerity. The Cathedral in Florence was designed as a civic monument and required a sufficiently imposing exterior. A curious combination, although the Cathedral uses a Gothic structural system, only the windows and doorways are in a Gothic style. The walls are solid, the exteriors matched to the eleventh century Romanesque Baptistery, and the tower is a separate campanile, replacing façade towers.
The Florence Duomo is dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore and is typical of Italian Gothic architecture. By the late 13th century, Florence was feeling jealous: Its archrivals Siena and Pisa sported huge new cathedrals filled with art while it was saddled with the tiny 5th- or 6th-century Santa Reparata as a cathedral. So, in 1296, the city hired Arnolfo di Cambio to design a new Duomo, and he began raising the facade and the first few bays before his death in 1302. Work continued under the auspices of the Wool Guild and architects Giotto di Bondone (who concentrated on the bell tower) and Francesco Talenti (who finished up to the drum of the dome and in the process greatly enlarged Arnolfo's original plan). The facade we see today is a neo-Gothic composite designed by Emilio de Fabris and built from 1871 to 1887. The Duomo was actually built around Santa Reparata so it could remain in business during construction. For more than 70 years, Florentines entered their old church through the freestanding facade of the new one, but in 1370 the original was torn down when the bulk of the Duomo -- except the dome -- was finished. We will discuss the dome later…………………………..
Italian builders exhibited little concern for the facades of their churches, and dozens remain unfinished to this day. One reason for this is may be that the facades were not conceived as integral parts of the structures, but rather as screens that could be added to the fabric at any time. The façade of Orvieto Cathedral (slide) is a typical and handsome example. Begun in the early fourteenth century it pays the graceful compliment of imitation to some parts of the French Gothic repertoire of ornament, especially in the four large pinnacles that divide the façade into three bays
Milan's Cathedral, the largest Gothic church in Italy and the third largest in Europe, was begun in 1386/7 and provides the most complete demonstration of the decorative focus of the High Gothic style. Based on an equilateral triangle, its design was the subject of heated debate between local architects and consultants from France and Germany. The result is an uneasy compromise of Northern and Southern traditions, heavily burdened with Late Gothic ornamentation. The Duomo has been described as a “wedding cake”.
Started in 1386 and finished in 1887, the marble building dominates Milan's central square. The building boasts 135 spires and the facade is adorned with more than 2000 stone sculptures. The interior is no less arresting. Five enormous naves separated by finely-worked stone pillars are framed by a series of beautifully worked stained-glass windows. The apse is the oldest part of the church, where three rose windows designed by Filippino de Modena reveal the complexity of the 14th-century stonework.
Palazzo Pubblico , Siena, Italy Doge’s Place, Venice Italy The Palazzo Pubblico, complete with chapel and meeting rooms, once housed the Podestà and the Council; today it is a kind of town hall. Made of red brick (typical of Siena) with a travertine base, it presents the image of a fortress but not really heavily fortified. The blind arcade on the ground level suggests commercialism rather than fortification as well. The Gothic mullioned windows were later copied in other Sienese buildings. The Palazzo Pubblico is the most monumental building surrounding the Campo, the most important public space in Siena The Doges palace is certainly the best example of civil architecture in gothic style, usually reserved for churches. The first one (9th century) was a genuine fortified castle with a drawbridge, of which nothing is left. The actual palace, started in 1345, was to offer a luxurious and impressive home the high magistracy of Venice and its maritime empire. The Doges, judges, high ranked officials lived there and even a prison was part of the building. After two big fires (1574and 1577), the Doges palace was rebuilt by Andrea Palladio in the old gothic style. One singularity of the Doges' Palace is, that its front is built of marble of various colors arranged to produce a pattern. The best colors for a building are those of natural stone.. The sculpture and moldings are all white; but the wall surface is checkered with marble blocks of pale rose, the checkers being in no wise fitted to the forms of the windows, but looking as if the wall had been completed first, and the windows cut out of it.