By using the pointed arch less lateral thrust, directs the weight downwards, not neccesary to have huge side buttresses. The Church was an expression of heaven on earth and Abbot Suger believed that LIGHT could create this - he believed in the divinity of light.
Introduction; the divinity of light;
Abbot Suger & St. Denis
“The Church became the Bible of the
Watch, listen and, in pairs, think of a question to ask the class.
In 1550, Giorgio Vasari, the “father of art history,” first used Gothic as a
derogatory term to describe late medieval art & architecture, which he attributed
to the Goths and regarded as “monstrous and barbarous.”
In the 13th & 14th centuries, however, when the Gothic style was fashionable in
most of Europe, people of the time admired Gothic buildings as opus modernum
(“modern work”). Both the clergy & the public saw the great cathedrals towering
over their towns as an exciting new style. For them, Gothic cathedrals were
images of the City of God, the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’, which they were privileged
to build on earth.
The Gothic age was a time of prosperity, but also a time of turmoil in Europe. (In
1337 the Hundred Years’ War began between France and England. In the 14th
century, a great plague swept over western Europe, killing at least a quarter of its
people.) Above all, the Gothic age was a time of profound change in European
society: the focus of life shifted from monasteries in the countryside to rapidly
expanding cities. In these new Gothic cities, prosperous merchants made their
homes, and guilds (professional associations) of scholars founded the first
modern universities. The papacy was at the height of its power, and knights
throughout Europe fought the Crusades against the Muslims, but at the same
time, the independent nations of modern Europe were beginning to take shape.
Foremost among them was France.
1)How did Abbot Suger ‘open up’ the architectural space?
2) Why did he do this?
The birth of the Gothic and the divinity of light: Abbot
Suger & the Ambulatory at St. Denis
radiating chapels with
ribbed vaults, abbey
remodelling of Saint-
Denis marked the
beginning of Gothic
vaults with pointed
arches spring from
slender columns. The
A barrel vault (cradle vault, tunnel vault, or wagon vault) has a semicircular cross section. A
groin (or cross) vault is formed at the point where two barrel vaults intersect at right angles. In
a ribbed vault, there is a framework of ribs or arches under the intersections of the vaulting
sections. A fan vault has radiating ribs which form a fanlike pattern.
Pointed arches channel the weight of the rib vaults more directly downward than do round arches,
requiring less buttressing. Pointed arches also make the vaults appear taller than they are.
A major advantage of the Gothic vault is its flexibility, which permits the vaulting of compartments of
varying shapes, as seen at Saint-Denis. Pointed arches also channel the weight of the vaults more directly
downward than do round arches. The vaults therefore require less buttressing to hold them in place, in
turn permitting builders to open up the walls and place large windows beneath the arches. Because
pointed arches also lead the eye upward, they make the vaults appear taller than they are. In the above
diagram, the crown (F ) of both the Romanesque (b ) and Gothic (c ) vaults is the same height from the
pavement, but the Gothic vault seems taller. Both the physical and visual properties of rib vaults with
pointed arches aided Gothic builders in their quest for soaring height in church interiors.
Pointed arches and rib vaults: more windows, more light
Nave of the Church of Saint Trophime,
Arles (France) (late 12th century) to
15th century: ROMANESQUE Chartres Cathedral, France, mostly
(re)constructed between 1194 and 1250:
In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone ‘grotesque’, often with a spout designed to
convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building - thereby preventing rainwater
from running down stone walls and eroding them. Combinations of animals (called chimeras)
were sometimes only decorative, but are still called gargoyles.
Although gargoyles fit every stereotype about evil creatures, they are instead guardians of the
structures which they inhabit.
The Gothic Gargoyle
Gardner’s ‘Art through the Ages’
OTIS Art History channel on Youtube
http://youtu.be/24N94rZ7XtU PBS “Building the Great Cathedrals”