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A. Why is “Gothic art” called Gothic art?
1. Giorgio Vasari – “The father of art history”
Renaissance artist and art historian
Used the term “Gothic” to ridicule late medieval art
and architecture
Fore him, “Gothic art and architecture were
“monstrous and barbarous” because they were invented
by the Goths.
Vasari and other Renaissance artists and critics
admired Greco-Roman styles
2. What did the builders of “Gothic” cathedrals call their style?
Opus Modernum – Modern work
Opus Francigenum – French work
B. Abbot Suger (Soo-zhayr),1081 – 1151, and the Gothic Style
1. Abbot Suger of St. Denis
St. Denis had the relics of St. Denis the Apostle of Gaul
St. Denis was also the burial place of the French kings
2. Friend and advisor to Louis VI (1108 – 1137) and Louis VII
(1137 – 1180)
3. A new vision
Great height – reaching up toward heaven (soaring
Suffused with light – “the light Divine” LUX NOVA =
A visible manifestation of God’s presence – you can see
it and feel it, but you can’t touch it.
Metaphor for Jesus as the light of the world
Brilliant colors with stain glass windows – to prefigure
(symbolically foreshadow) the Heavenly Jerusalem
Abbot Suger wrote treatises about how he thought new
architecture should look
Wanted architecture that would lift people’s mind and
spirit above the muck of this world
C. Rebuilding of St. Denis
1. He presided over the rebuilding of St. Denis’ ambulatory and
incorporated his new ideas.
D. The Gothic Period
From 1150 – 1400
80 cathedrals built in France from 1150 – 1250
Spread throughout Europe
Gothic Period Architecture is usually represented by
What are the characteristics of a Gothic Cathedral?
A. The Key Elements of Gothic Architecture
1. Pointed arches
The returning Crusaders admired the pointed arches of
Islamic architecture that they had seen in the Holy
Pointed arches open up more space than do rounded
arches (See diagram in Gardner’s) which fit with Abbot
Suger’s goals of greater height
Pointed arches also direct the eye upwards to heaven –
give a greater sense of height
2. Ribbed vaults
Vaults in Gothic churches are different from the barrel
vaults which were most common in Romanesque
Ribbed vaults used pointed arches for the vaulting.
The ribs are the stones that extend from the ceiling
There are two diagonal ribs that make an X-shape
There are two transverse ribs
3. Piers
Large compound piers extend to the rib vaults and help
support them and lead the eye heaven-ward.
4. Flying buttresses – external support arms that hold up the
walls from the outside
With the greater nave height and vaulting, there is great
outward thrust on the walls meaning that the walls
would fall outward and away from the center
Flying buttresses hold them up
Called “flying” because there is space between the
vertical part of the support and the horizontal arm that
extends to the wall
Think of the quadrant arches in Durham Cathedral,
England as sort of proto-flying buttresses even though
Durham is a Romanesque Cathedral (begun 1093,
Gardner’s 17-33)
5. Large stained glass windows
Fulfills Abbot Suger’s vision that the church should be
suffused with the light of heaven
The new support methods – POINTED ARCHES,
allowed for more space in the walls for larger windows
Some subtle differences between Early Gothic and High
1. Triforium
o As height of cathedrals increased the space
between the tribune (or gallery) and the
clerestory got longer. Architects broke up
the big expanse of plain masonry with a
triforium. The triforium was a passageway
along the length of the nave and sometimes
had stained glass windows. Sometimes it was
just a blind arcade.
o Eventually the need for the gallery
disappeared because the nave was supported
by flying buttresses.
o Early Gothic cathedrals have four levels:
nave, gallery, triforium, clerestory.
o High Gothic cathedrals have three levels:
nave, triforium, and clerestory.
2. Piers
o Stopped using alternating support structures.
Each compound pier was identical to unify
the space.
3. Aisles
o In High Gothic there was a single aisle on
each side of the nave. The aisles were square
in plan.
4. Vaults
o In France, the vaulting was a four-part
(quadripartite) vault; early Gothic might
have a sexpartite vault.
Chartres – Queen of Cathedrals: Considered the first High Gothic
A. Introduction – On the road to Chartres
1. Story of Chartres and the Virgin’s Veil
The Virgin’s Veil was worn by the Virgin Mary the
night Christ was born – considered one of the greatest
relics of all Christendom
It was stolen from Constantinople
Gift from King Charles the Bald (876)
Chartres had a huge fire that destroyed most of the
Romanesque cathedral in 1194
The Virgin’s Veil was saved which was perceived by the
townspeople as a miracle
Rebuilding of Chartres took place 1194 – 1120
B. The West Façade
1. Two towers (Gardner’s 18-5)
One is Romanesque – heavier and more solid looking
One is Gothic – (north or to the left) – more ornate
2. A rose window
Stain glass window with an round shape and many
panes which mimic the petals of a rose
 One of 176 stained glass windows in Chartres
3. Windows
Notice that the façade is pierced with windows, not
blind arcades like Romanesque westworks.
4. Three portals on the western façade known
Called the Royal Portal because the figures on the jamb
columns are kings and queens from the Old Testament
Central Portal – Christ as Judge
o TYMPANUM – Christ enthroned as judge and
ruler of the universe. Christ is surrounded by a
o TETRAMORPHS – the symbols of the four
Gospel writers
o LINTEL – 12 standing apostles plus two Old
Testament prophets (Elijah and Enoch). Figures
are arranged in groups of three
ornamental band surrounding the TYMPANUM.
The outer two archivolts contain 24 elders and
the inner archivolt contains 12 angels
North (left) Portal – Christ’s Ascension (to Heaven after
 TYMPANUM – timeless Heavenly Christ
ascendant in a cloud held by two angels
 Lintel – Should be 12 apostles but is 10. Why?
Because the Gothic arch space was narrower
than a Romanesque arch space? Someone
South (right) portal – The Incarnation (God made flesh)
 Knowing that this church housed the relic of the
piece of cloth that Mary wore during the birth of
Christ, what do you think the program (story or
narrative) is being depicted in the tympanum
and lintel?
How do these programs compare to the tympanum
programs we have seen in Romanesque cathedrals?
Why do you think there are these differences?
C. Nave and Transept (Gardner 18-14)
1. Amazing facts and figures
 The nave is 427 feet long or 142 yards long!
 The nave is 123 feet high from floor to ceiling!
 The nave and transept can hold 6,000 worshippers!
2. Three parts of the NAVE ELEVATION – from floor to
 Nave arcade – the series of arches supported by
compound piers
 Triforium – the intermediate story above the nave
arcade, a walkway with a slanted ceiling
 Clerestory – the row of windows below the vaults
D. Stained-glass windows
1. 176 windows in Chartres
2. 22,000 square feet
3. Examples:
Notre Dame de la Belle Verriere (Our Lady of the
Beautiful Window) Also known as the Blue Virgin
o From the original Chartres Cathedral that was
burned down in 1194. Side windows are from
the 1200’s. G: 18-16. For full index and closeups of individual windows:
The North Rose Window see Gardner 491
o 42 feet in diameter
o A gift from the Queen of France (Queen Blanche
of Castile)
o Note the yellow fleur-de-lis (three-petaled iris
flowers) the symbol of the French royal family as
well as the gold castles – symbol of Queen
Blanche’s homeland of Castile (in Spain)
o In the center sits a crowned Mary holding the
Christ Child
o The first circle around her contains 4 doves and
8 angels – doves symbolize the Holy Spirit
o The second circle depicts 12 kings of Judah,
Precursors to Christ – the prophets foretold how
the Messiah would come from the family line of
King David – Notice the window for King David
and King Solomon (David’s son and successor)
o The final circle depicts 12minor prophets who
prefigure Christ and his Apostles
Five Lancet windows
Five Lancets represent the triumph of divine law
1- The priest-king Melchizedek towers over the
idolatrous Nebuchadzezzar of Babylon
2- Beneath King David, King Saul, David’s
disobedient predecessor kills himself with a
3- St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, holds
her daughter above the arms of France
4- King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived,
stands above Jeroboam, a king who worshipped
5- Aaron, brother of Moses, triumphs over
pharaoh whose armies drowned in the Red Sea
Let’s compare the Gothic stained glass Virgin and
Child with the Byzantine mosaic of the Theotokos
(bearer of God) and Child in Hagia Sophia
(Gardner 12-19)
The Byzantine mosaic is designed to REFLECT
The Chartres window is designed to FILTER light
What are the stylistic differences you see?
A. Laon Cathedral, Laon, France, begun ca. 1190
1. Retained many Romanesque features in design BUT
 Did use rib vaulting on pointed arches
 Had a triforium
 Had a huge rose window on west façade
 Had deep (funnel) porches in front doorways
 Open structure of towers
B. Notre Dame de Paris (1163 – 1250) (Gardner’s 18-11)
Flying Buttresses
Rib Vaults
Pointed Arches
Stained-Glass Windows
Nave elevation
 Nave arcade
 Triforium
 Clerestory
C. Amiens Cathedral, Amiens, France, begun 1220
1. Self-sustaining skeletal structure in full maturity at Amiens
2. Great light recalls importance of light at Hagia Sophia
3. Lowest part of west façade influenced by Laon Cathedral
 But as it progresses upwards you can see the west
façade more and more “punctured”
 Note band of sculptures below rose window: King’s
4. Uneven towers were later additions
5. Which sculptures on Chartres does Beau Dieu (18-22,
Amiens Cathedral) match best?
D. Reims Cathedral, Reims, France, ca. 1225 - 1290
1. Background
Site of Clovis’ conversion to Christianity in 496
The Romanesque cathedral burned down in 1210. The
fire was allegedly set by Alberic de Humbert. The
archbishop wanted a new and grander cathedral in the
Gothic style.
Cathedral where the French kings were coroneted.
Sacred relics include a piece of the True Cross worn by
2. An incredible west façade (Gardner’s 18-23)
Five archivolts
Stained-glass windows replace carved tympanums
King’s Gallery above rose window, not below like Reims.
3. A spectacular nave
 124 feet high
 Shows all key Gothic elements
4. Note the stylistic development of the architectural sculptures
outside of Reims Cathedral, Annunciation and Vistitation.
E. Sainte-Chapelle (Gardner’s 18-25)
1. A RELIQUARY chapel – Saint Chapelle is not a church in
its own right but a chapel with important relics
 Louis IX (1226 – 1270) was the ideal Christian king. He
was revered for his piety, justice, truthfulness, and
 He led the Seventh (1248 – 1254) and Eighth (1270)
 Pope Bonface VIII declared Louis a saint in 1297
 Louis IX purchased the Crown of Thorns, lance, sponge,
part of the True Cross, and a nail from the True
2. Saint-Chapelle functioned as a repository for these precious
3. The upper floor of the chapel was accessible only to the king
and the clergy
4. Stained-glass
 6,450 square feet of stained-glass make up more than ¾
of the structure
 Sainte-Chapelle’s enormous windows filter the light and
fill the interior with unearthly rose-violet light
5. Sainte-Chapelle is an example of the RAYONNANT or
RADIANT style of the Gothic style which dominated the
second half of the 13th century (ie. 1250 – 1300)
F. Saint-Maclou, Rouen, France, ca. 1500 – 1514
1. Gardner’s---Tracery: Ornamental stonework for holding
stained glass in place. Plate tracery: glass fills “punched
holes.” Bar tracery the stained glass fills most of the
opening; the stonework is unobtrusive. But in describing
Saint-Maclou tracery also seems to refer to any lace-like
stonework. Note use of “tracery” for stonework in gable that
has no stained glass.
2. FLAMBOYANT STYLE: so named because of the flame-like
appearance of its pointed bar tracery) FLORID
3. So ornate and transparent that it presents a bewildering
Evolution of High Gothic Sculpture
A. Royal Port, Chartres Cathedral, 1145 - 1155
1. Old Testament Kings
 From Romanesque Tradition
 Rigid
 Linear, regular folds of clothing
 Elongated proportions
 Not caryatid (or atlantid): Attached to columns, not a
replacement for columns.
 Starting to individualize representations. Not mask-like
 But sculptures were volumes, not reliefs: Compare to
Romanesque relief on trumeau of Saint-Pierre, Moissac,
2. Seventy years later: A second “Classical revolution”
 On south transept of Chartres (they spent a long time
making these things!) 1220 – 1230
 Saints Martin, Jerome, and Gregory
 More free-standing; columns are just
background support.
 Faces and stances are individualized
 Sculptures relate to one another, have different
 Clothed in Gothic period liturgical costumes.
 Not rigid posture
 Cloth is regular but less linear
 Think of the changes in Greek sculpture from
Archaic to Classical periods.
 Saint Theodore on south transept (1230)
Torsion of figure
Weight shifted: note his right hip is thrust out
i. There is a sense of motion but not weight.
But not contrapposto: Notice the feet.
See this a lot in Gothic figuration: the “S”
ii. Gardener’s says like Polykleitos’s Spear
Bearer. But I don’t buy it.
iii. Ideal Christian Knight: Wears intricately
sculpted chain mail, has shield
Annunciation and Visitation, west façade of Reims
Cathedral, 1230 – 1255
 Made by 3 different artists or workshops
i. Visitation
ii. Mary
iii. Angel Gabriel
 Sculptures appear detached from architectural
backgrounds. Columns insignificant.
Christ (Beau Dieu), west façade of Amiens Cathedral,
1220 -1235
 Fully modeled figure
 Deeply modeled drapery
 Almost a free-standing sculpture
 Placed in an architectural setting: canopy: like
east end of a cathedral with radiating chapels.
 Nice guy with beard.
i. Kindly not terrifying
ii. Hope in salvation
iii. Becomes preferred representation of
Christ in European art.
Virgin and Child (Virgin of Paris), Notre-Dame, Paris,
France, early 1300’s
 Best example of Late Gothic sculpture
 Exaggerated “S” curve
 Worldly queen/infant prince
 Further humanization of religious figures.
Gothic Secular Architecture in France
A. Fortified town of Carcassonne, France
1. Tightly contained complex of castle, cathedral, and town
within towered walls.
2. Double walls
3. Parapets, crenellations (merlons & crenels)
B. Hall of the cloth guild, Bruges, Belgium, begun 1230
1. Shows increasing wealth and power of guilds
2. Secularization of urban life in late Middle Ages
3. Combines features of military (crenellated watchtower) and
church (lancet windows and oculi)
C. House of Jacques Coeur, Bourges, France, 1443 – 1451
1. Rich and powerful financier
2. Use of Gothic vocabulary for secular use.
Book Illumination and Luxury Arts
A. Book manufacture shifted from monastic scriptoria to urban,
professional artist workshops
B. Villard de Honnecourt, sketchbook of master mason (architect)
figures based on geometric shapes
C. God as architect of the world
D. Blanche of Castile, Louis IX, and two monks
E. Abraham and the three angels (pre-figuration of three magi), Psalter
of Saint Louis, 1253 – 1270
1. Design influenced by stained glass: Sometimes workshops
produced both
2. Intense colors and bar tracery evident in design
3. Court style = elegant proportions, facial expressions,
theatrical gestures, and swaying poses. Compare to Reims
Annunciation angel.
F. Master Honore, David anointed by Samuel and battle of David and
Goliath, Breviary of Philippe le Bel, 1296
1. Linear treatment of hair
2. Not located in space (tapestrybackground)
3. Volume indicated by shading
4. Does not have classical idea of illusionistic window on 3D
G. Jean Pucelle, David before Saul, Belleville Breviary, ca. 1325
1. Modeled figures in convincing architectural space with
convincing perspective
2. Renditions of plants and animals show close observation of
3. Pucelle and assistants’ names in back of book
H. Virgin of Jeanne d’Evreux, abbey church of Saint-Denis, France
1. Private devotional figure for wealthy person or gift to church
2. No hint of grief (foreshadowing)
3. Intimate mother and child
4. Mother of Christ and Queen of Heaven
5. How would you describe posture?
I. The Castle of Love and knights jousting, ca. 1330 – 1350
1. Woman’s jewelry box
2. Illustrates poem “Romance of the Rose”
3. Secular themes were prominent in private art
VIII. Gothic Style Outside of France
A. England
1. Salisbury Cathedral, 1220 - 1258
 English façade is a squat screen that hides building
behind it
 Soaring height is absent
 Does have 3-part division of interior (nave & two aisles)
 Emphasis on great crossing tower
 Flying buttresses used sparingly: not needed, not high:
a prop
 Double transept: common for English and Cistercian
churches. Flat eastern end (no apse)
 Pier colonnettes stop at springing, not connected with
vault ribs
 Strong horizontal emphasis
2. Gloucester Cathedral, 14th C.
 PERPENDICULAR STYLE: more decorative and
 Multiplication of ribs
 Vertical emphasis
 Giant window filling a pointed arch: made up of
smaller pointed arch windows.
 Choir is actually a barrel vault with ornate ribbing.
3. Chapel of Henry VII, Westminster Abbey, London, England,
1503 - 1519
 More structure-disguising decorations that look like
 Fan vaults: radiating ribbing
 Hanging pendants like stalactites (Muqarnas dome,
 Dissolution of structural Gothic to decorative fancy:
Contemporaneous with Flamboyant style in SaintMaclou.
4. Royal Tombs, Edward II, Gloucester Cathedral, ca. 1330 –
 Freestanding but unmovable “furniture”
 Recumbent images
 Preserve remains and enhance reputation of piety.
Object of services for the dead as requested by the
 King looks like Christ with angels at his head
 Perpendicular Gothic canopy encases coffin like a
miniature chapel.
 Ogee arches (double-curved lines)
 Like a life-size reliquary
B. Holy Roman Empire
1. Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany, begun 1248
 Took 600 years to complete
 Quest for height
 Withstood bombing of WWII
2. Saint Elizabeth, Marburg, Germany, 1235 – 1283
 Hallenkirche (Hall Church) design: Aisles same height
as nave. Therefore no tribune, triforium, or clerestory
 No flying buttresses
 Brighter than French or English Gothic churches.
3. German Gothic Sculpture
 Strasbourg Cathedral, Strasbourg, France, Death of the
Virgin, tympanum, ca. 1230
 Apostles gather around recumbent Mary and
form an arch to fit in tympanum
 Christ receives his mother’s soul (little statue)
 Highly emotional, grief/resignation
 Deeply incised drapery unifies composition
 Ekkehard and Uta, Naumberg Cathedral, Naumberg,
Germany, ca. 1249 – 1255
 Made a century after their death (two of the
original benefactors of the church)
 Statues attached to columns and under canopies
 Indoors so their paint is well preserved: gives
good idea of what façade and transept sculptures
looked like when new.
 By mid 1200’s in HRE and England, life-size
images of secular people in churches.
 Doesn’t Uta look like the evil queen from a
Disney animation?
 Bamberg Rider
 Equestrian figure revives Carolingian imagery,
derived from ancient Rome.
 Seems like a portrait
 Of Holy Roman Emperor? Would underscore
unity of church and state in 13th C. Germany.
 Careful representation of clothes and equestrian
Proportion of horse and rider correct (not
oversize rider like in Marcus Aurelius or
 Torsion of figure like Reims portal statues.
Rottgen Pieta, 1300 - 1325
 War, plague, famine of 14th C.
 Powerful expression of suffering, grief
 Artist confronts devout with appalling icon of
suffering and death: almost heresy.
 Humanizing of religious themes from 12th to 14th
C. Art addressed to private person through
appeal to emotions. Emotion accompanied
human body in motion.
Nicholas of Verdun, Shrine of the Three Kings, Cologne
Cathedral, ca. 1190
 Holds remains of the three magi
 Like sculpted version of his enamel figures from
Klosterneuburg figures
 Shaped like a cathedral
 Repousse figures in high relief
 Silver, gems, enamel, bronze: fits Abbot Suger’s
idea of the fabulous, otherworldly atmosphere in
Good website to see and tour a variety of Gothic cathedrals: