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Assignment 2

As with assignment 1, I have made the assignment as a pdf document which can be downloaded here: Assignment 2 PDF submission. The course notes lists the requirements in A4 page sizes and in a pdf is easier to keep track of that.

The assignment includes.

  • Two annotations of sculpture, one Roman and one Greek
  • Four pages of notes (covering 3 chapters in WHA).
  • One 500 word analysis of the Gothic visit
  • References for assignment 2 (in Harvard referencing style)

 

Reflection:

On the template for notes:

I find using the template really quite hard. It’s artificial and I feel as though I’m losing vital context when compressing large amounts of information into this unwieldy framework. There are often bits I want to write down in the notes that just don’t seem to fit into the framework and bits that fit into more than one section of the framework.

On the page/word limitations for the assignment:

For the Greek section I wrote up loads of notes that I just couldnt use in the final summary (which was challenged to be 4 pages for 3 chapters). I tried to economise on space by using abbreviations and also ended up formatting with a small font (I hope the assessors have good eyesight or a zoom button). I managed to get the Roman chapter down to a page by writing less notes and also reordering and rewording them to be less space taking (and removing the bullet points which I thought would save space but didnt really, just improved readability) but it definitely loses something.

More detailed and easier to read notes can be found on the blog posts for each chapter, Greeks, Romans and Medieval.

For the analysis the 500 word count really hit me hard this time, i managed to keep it to a page but it’s over 5oo words. They tell us to ‘think deeply and critically’ and then not give enough space to explain that? See my double length draft and further reflection here.

On the Annotations

I think I took too long to choose my second annotation subject this time so my research is not as deep as I’d have liked (see my reflection against the Assessment Criteria below), I drafted the annotations and research here and here. I compared the two annotations more this time (as per feedback from assignment 1). To avoid having these issues with delays in getting books (and having to fall back to the internet because of its immediacy) I’ve looked ahead at the next assignment already and had a guess at which books might be useful and reserved them in the library, hopefully they’ll arrive before I’m finished this time. Having said that any book suggestions by the tutor are extremely welcomed!

On the learning logs

There’s a lot of ‘todo’ bits left over this time, and lots of images still sitting on my hard drive. I think I spent too long on the earlier exercises and didn’t get to finish some of them. I will try and go over them in due course and finish bits off. With my schedule I was more able to visit places than have the time to write them up. I have now learn from this mistake and remedied that somewhat by bringing my laptop into work so I can have access to photos I’ve taken etc when I have the time to spend at lunch writing it all up. Another lesson learnt, this time with wordpress, I should have captioned all my images in Adobe LightRoom before I exported them to my blog. I had key-worded them with which bits of the cathedral I was in so I could later write them up with proper captions on the blog but then from the blog could not see those keywords, I think by captioning them directly in LR it would import those captions into wordpress.

On the concepts covered in part 2

I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I found the religious work a bit dull to read about but I enjoyed seeing all the Greek & Roman sculpture. I enjoyed doing the London wall walk, it put it into perspective a bit clearer how small the world was back then. These days we think nothing of flying off to Europe for the weekend and London is a massive sprawling city and suburbs. Roman London was a tiny portion of what we now refer to as the city. I enjoyed my visit to the Cathedral on the south bank and mini trips to see various Gothic buildings. I knew nothing about architecture when I started the chapter and now I find myself noticing new bits of buildings that I’ve been walking past in London for years and year, thinking ‘I must look that up’ or ‘I wonder what type of column that is’ or ‘thats a strange statue, I wonder what the original function of that building was’.

 

Overall reflection against the Assessment Criteria:

  • Demonstration of subject-based knowledge and understanding – there was a lot of reading in this chapter, and also I tried to use a few more books for the assignment research (as per feedback from assignment 1). I think I have demonstrated my understanding of the area in this assignment according to the research I have done (see below).
  • Demonstration of research skills – I went to see the sculpture I chose to annotate in person and tried to see them by sketching, but also evaluated the sources I was looking at in books and on the internet for their scholarly worth. I would have liked to get hold of The Elgin Marbles book for the second assignment but due to personal issues with my schedule I was not able to (I decided to annotate that particular sculpture a bit late). I think that might be reflected in the feedback this time, my tutor will probably suggest some rework anyway so perhaps I can include consulting that book then.
  • Demonstration of critical and evaluation skills – I tried to engage with the concepts throughout part one within each of the exercises. On reflection I think perhaps the word counts for the assignments are there to enhance evaluation skills by seeing what you include and what you leave out. Perhaps I can work on this a bit on the next assignment and leave out more.
  • Communication – I think my ideas and points are written clearly. I try to reflect on bits as I go along since the assessor cannot be inside my head. I am still not sure of the language though, I have tried to make my writing style more formal for the assignment this time and to use more words that one might find in a glossary.

Two of the three goddesses from the east pediment of the Parthenon – A2 Research

The Parthenon characterises the Classical period in Greek art and I was lucky enough to see the sculptures from it during my British Museum Visit. This blogpost is some research these sculptures for my second annotation for assignment 2.

“Pediments are the triangular spaces formed by the pitch of the roof of a Greek temple, one at either end of the building. They were often filled with sculpture representing mythological subjects. The triangular frame of the pediment presented a challenge to the designers of the sculpture placed within. There was a danger that figures at the centre would appear as giants compared with those that occupied the corners. This discrepancy in scale was lessened by allowing figures towards the corners to sit, and right in the corners, to recline. ” (Google Cultural Institute, 2016c)

Three goddesses were seated along the right hand side of the east pediment, witnessing the birth of Athena from Zeus (in the centre now lost). The furthest two are pictured here. One languishing in the other ones arms, their posture was designed accommodate the slope of the architectural mouldings that framed the pediment. The reason I picked these figures from all that I saw in the Parthenon sculptures gallery is that these are thought to be Aphrodite and her mother Dione. I wanted to compare Greek Aphrodite with Roman (Lely’s) Venus. Although this is the assertion that I’m going with, it is interesting to note that another conjecture on who these two figures could represent ranges from Thalassa, Personification of the Sea, in the lap of Gaia, Mother Earth or The Fates.

This group is so remarkable, despite losing their heads and arms, for their ‘complex drapery’.

“The garments of the Parthenon statues are carved in ridges and deep furrows, which catch the light and hold the shade. No cloth naturally rumples in this way. The effect is entirely artificial. These gossamer-like draperies must have given the pediments a shimmering vitality and – what was far more important – they relieved, rather than concealed, the forms of the bodies beneath them. In the group ‘The Fates’ the soft fullness of the breasts is emphasized by gently swirling lines, firm roundness of the arms by tight gatherings across them, the robustness of the thighs by the board diagonals of deeper folds.“ p137 WHA

We will never know for certain who these three goddesses were supposed to represent, or whether this reclining figure is really Aphrodite, let us assume for a moment she is. These sculptures were made about a century before the first nude Aphrodite which annotation one (above) is based upon, so that this figure appears clothed (in a manner of speaking) is not a surprise. However, the whole demeanor of the goddess has changed from one representation to the other. The Parthenon goddess is relaxed, draped across the lap of her companion. Her body is twisted to face out of the pediment, emphasizing her curves, but from her posture we can imagine her lounging on a bed in much the same manner. Even without her head you can tell she is sexy and confident within her own skin. Lely’s Venus is a complete contrast. She is trying to cover her nakedness with this pose, and not even in the half-hearted, for-the-censors, one hand type that the first nude Aphrodite employed. In that crouching pose she is using her whole right arm in a very defensive manner.  

In 1674, Jacques Carrey (although that may not have been his actual name) made very detailed  drawings of the Parthenon statues, at that time the reclining figure still had her head. Just 13 years later, a lot of damage was done by a massive explosion when the invading Venetian army pelted the Parthenon with cannonfire because the Turks had hidden their armory inside. In the 1920’s historians used those drawings and other scholarly materials to create a full scale replica of the Parthenon (including the giant Athena statue inside) in Nashville, Tennessee.

 

References

Beard, M. (2010) The Parthenon.Profile Books
 
D’Alleva. (2010) How to Write Art History. (2nd Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing
 
Google Cultural Institute. (2016b) Figures of three goddesses from the east pediment of the Parthenon At: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/asset-viewer/figures-of-three-goddesses-from-the-east-pediment-of-the-parthenon/DgGSx_YXE8PADw
(Accessed on 7 May 16)
 
Google Cultural Institute. (2016c) At: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/asset-viewer/figure-thought-to-be-of-dionysos-from-the-east-pediment-of-the-parthenon/XgE6C-9WfO4Dbw
(Accessed on 7 May 16)
 
Metropolitan Government of Nashville. (2016) The Parthenon At: http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Parthenon/Learn-and-explore.aspx
(Accessed on 7 May 16)
 
Neils, J & Oakley J. (2003) Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past.Yale University Press
 
Travelogues. (2016) Drawing of the eastern pediment of the Parthenon by Jacques Carrey, 1674. At: http://eng.travelogues.gr/item.php?view=32388
(Accessed on 7 May 16)
 

Assignment 2: Draft of Analysis of Gothic Cathedral Visit

I tried to bear in mind the following comments from my assignment 1 feedback on the analysis section:

“Description: In this section you need to describe the form, medium, scale, key shapes, and palette.

Interpretation: You should interpret the work by addressing the question of function and meaning, analysing distinctive elements, the effect of compositional devices or artistic choices, and why the artwork was created (context) with reference to evidence from other sources.

Evaluation: To evaluate the image record positive and negatives responses to the quality of the work and appraise scholarly/critical judgements. How successful do you think the painting is? Gauge the influence of the painting on later artists.” Tutor Feedback

The course notes say

  • Describe what you see.
  • Interpret its historical and artistic context.
  • Evaluate how successful the image is and how it compares with similar images by other artists or other works by the same artist.

I really struggle with the word count though. Especially with this one because there is so much to see and describe in the cathedral. I started writing and below is what I came up with. When I saw the word count was way over I stopped writing but could have continued and fleshed out the interpretation and evaluation paragraphs, but what would be the point when I have to trim it back to 500 words for the assignment. I thought I’d record this as is before I edited it right down to barebones to get it nearer the assignment mandated word count. Also, I found it very hard to separate out the evaluation and interpretation. I felt like i was repeating myself or otherwise missing out info or putting it in the wrong paragraph.

 

Description:

Southwark is a small cathedral London’s Southbank. The plan of the church is a traditional cross shape, with ‘top’ of the cross being represented by the Sanctuary, Choir & Retrochoir, the ‘arms’ of the cross, the North and South Transept and the long part of the cross, represented by the Nave. Other buildings adjacent to the main church are connected via a covered walkway of glass called Lancelot’s Link. The entrances to the main interior are at the western end of the Nave (at the ‘foot’ of the cross).

The interior itself is filled with a light airy feeling owing to the many windows, (some with stained glass), and the very high vaulted ceiling. This was especially felt in the Nave, Transepts and Crossing at the time day I visited (almost 6pm when the sun was low in the West). The ceiling above the central column of the church, the Nave and the Sanctuary is two stories up, with lancet windows at the clerestory level windows and a blind arcade with thin columns at gallery level. The vaulted ceilings in the Transepts are equally high, with large pointed arched windows (north, with stained glass and octofoil window and south with plain glass but elaborate curvilinear tracery). The Aisles have their own vaulted ceilings, in the same style but one level lower (presumably to support the gallery level gabled roof only because from the outside there doesn’t look to be space to have a full gallery level). Stained glass windows line the walls. The arches leading to the choir aisles are not the same on both sides of the church, on the south is the usual equilateral arch, on the north is a stilted arch, where one distorted side has been flattened to allow for a staircase leading up to the tower. The Choir has an ornate wooden seating area (the stalls) and elaborate wooden screens, tombs and monuments across the 5 bays each side, the piers are alternately circular and octagonal leading up to triple vaulting shafts for the ceiling. The High Altar has an altarpiece with geometric patterns and religious sculptures which looks to be covered in gold leaf which melts into a wall of statues on the Great Screen. The Crossing under the central tower has four piers, flattened on the inner sides with a flat patterned ceiling that the chandelier hangs down from. Next to one of these piers stand the pulpit. The Transepts are quite small and filled with various 17th and 18th century monuments. Most of the capitals were quite plain but there was one column at the back of the Nave (by the Font) which looked to be a stiff-leaf capital.

The exterior, at the East end (the retrochoir), has a symmetrical set of chapels with pointed arched windows and pointed roofing. Above and behind them there is a small rose window visible on the sanctuary tower (which I could not see from inside). Behind that rises the central tower with four spiral pinnacles and a clock. Moving around the building to the left is the South churchyard & garden. Here you can see the medieval pointed arch windows with geometric tracery and further along, the newer curvilinear tracery of the South Transept pointed arched windows and the sweep of the flying buttresses as they support the upper level of the building. At the west end of the nave, showing equilateral arch stained glass windows with, for symmetry some blind tracery arches. Above these are two pointed medallion moldings with religious scenes in them and above that a strip of arabesque molding. Above that are some more lancet windows with what looks to be shutter blinds in them. The edges of the buttresses and cornerstones of the building have quoins, ‘larger rusticated blocks’ of a different material to the rest of the brickwork. This gives a very pretty edging pattern.

Interpretation:

The church dates back to the early 12th century but was rebuilt in the Early Gothic style after a ‘disastrous’ fire in 1212 damaged the church, priory, and hospital. The oldest complete part of the building, the Choir and Retrochoir, still dates from 1212 and is now the oldest gothic building in London. At the end of the Choir is the Great Screen built in 1520 and embellished with (‘New Jerusalem’ style) statues in 1905 when it was officially named a Cathedral.The Nave has been replaced several times since then, the current one dates from 1897 (designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield) in the Gothic Revival style. The North and South Transepts were built in 1283 and 1310 respectively, however the current south transept is the result of another fire related rebuild in the 1390s. At this time they also increased the height of the tower and restored the chapel. The tracery in the South Transept looks to be of Decorated style (equivalent to flamboyant style).

Evaluation

The style of the church is a hodgepodge of styles but mostly Early Medieval Gothic and 19th Century Gothic Revival but overall architecturally majestic. To evaluate how successful this is as a Gothic cathedral we have to remember that this was only made a recognised Cathedral in 1905. The original function was more humble so it is not really fair to compare with the likes of Ste-Chapelle in Paris (p385, fig 9.50 in WHA). The ‘chapel of the Kings of France’ is a grand affair (as you would expect), a pinnacle of the Gothic style’s drive for ‘divine light’, the interior has very little wall space, it is one giant space entirely enclosed by stained glass windows and a “lacy mesh of tracery” (WHA, p385). One must also realise that the Medieval English speciality was embroidery (highly sort after by all of Europe), the original of which (if it survives) would be in a museum (such as the pieces in the V&A). There was some embroidered material on the High Altar but I do not know its age. So we are not seeing this ‘church’ as originally it would have been in Medieval times. As a Gothic Revival Building I think it is very successful. High vaulted ceilings and pointed arched religious stained glass windows run throughout the building but the two Gothic era concepts of simple religious stories in stained glass and daily life revolving around the church has been ‘revived’ and combined by the Victorian windows (designed by Charles Eamer Kempe) of famous literary figures who were Southwark inhabitants (such as Geoffrey Chaucer) along one aisle wall. Other more modern stained glass has been added too. The exterior of the building has typical Gothic elements, flying buttresses and use of symmetrical sets of pointed arched windows with conspicuous curvilinear tracery.    

References
Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

Hopkins, O. (2012) Reading Architecture: A Visual Lexicon. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

Hughes. (2009) Timeline Of Southwark Cathedral – PDF At: http://cathedral.southwark.anglican.org/downloads/visit/timeline.pdf
(Accessed on 30 April 16)

Southwark Cathedral . (2009) Various links from the main visit menu At: http://cathedral.southwark.anglican.org/visit/
(Accessed on 30 April 16)

Lely’s Venus (Aphrodite) – Assignment 2 research

In preparation for the two annotations for assignment two I thought I’d do some more research on the Venus I saw in the British Museam.

I’ve prepared a large version of the photo to annotate which is compirsed of a series of images providing an ‘all around’ view. To see the large view click the image.

Lely’s Venus (Aphrodite), sculpture 1963.10-29.1. All round view
Lely’s Venus (Aphrodite), sculpture 1963.10-29.1. All round view

Aphrodite to the Greeks, Venus to the Romans. The beautiful goddess has been depicted nude numerous times across the ages in sculpture and paintings. It all started when the Aphrodite of Cnidus by Praxiteles (c.350 BC) was made. The first monumental female nude in classical sculpture, challenging the accepted norm at that time because only the male Greek sculptures were nude (perhaps reflecting a rising social status of women). It was placed in a shrine in the Aphrodite temple at Knidos in south-western Turkey and has inspired and affected the course of female depiction in art ever since.

Some of these statues show Aphrodite attempting to cover her nakedness with her hands which only succeeds in drawing the viewer’s eye towards the sexual areas. In this marble statue known as the Crouching Venus or Lely’s Venus, she is crouched down bathing (denoted by the water pot attribute by her feet) and she is turning her head (and body slightly) as though surprised by someone, prompting her to cover herself, with her right arm bent in front her body and her left arm resting on her left leg. She has a typical Hellenistic hairstyle, an elaborate top-knot, with her hair hanging down over her left shoulder leading the eye around the sculpture. She also has an armband on, I’m assuming this is typical too but I have not seen it specifically mentioned anywhere that I’ve read about. This statue is a 2nd AD Roman copy (Antonine period) of a Greek Original from 200 BC, where the original was made to be seen in-the-round but this sculpture was clearly intended for a corner or niche because the backside of it is only basically roughed out.

It’s known as the Lely Venus after the painter Sir Peter Lely  (1618-80) who owned the statue in the 17th century, probably to distinguish it from other Crouching Aphrodite/Venus sculptures. It was in the collection of the Gonzaga family, Mantua, where it was inventoried in the Gonzaga collection in 1627. It was to deeply affect Peter Paul Rubens during his time there. It was acquired by King Charles I (an avid collector of Roman antiquities), sold by Duke Vincenzo II of Mantua.

“It was put on sale after Charles I’s execution and is listed in the Commonwealth Sale Inventory of 1650 (lot 10, fol. 61v) in the section headed ‘statues being hole figures’: ’88: Sellena hole figure bigger than ye life £600′. It was bought by the artist Peter Lely. By 1682 it had returned to the Royal Collection.”(Royal Collection Trust, 2016)

Since 1963 it has been on long term loan to the British Museum.

 

References:

Beard, M. and Henderson J. (2001) Classical Art: from Greece to Rome.Oxford Univerity Press
Burnett Grossman, J. (2003) Looking at Greek and Roman Sculpture in stone.Getty

Gersht, R. (2001) Aquatic Figure Types from Caesarea-Maritima, Department of Art History, Tel Aviv University (available at: http://www5.tau.ac.il/arts/departments/image/stories/journals/arthistory/Assaph6/03gersht.pdf)
(Accessed on 30 April 16)

Google Cultural Institute. (2016) Statue of crouching Aphrodite (‘Lely’s Venus’) At: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/asset-viewer/statue-of-crouching-aphrodite-lely-s-venus/EwH3FgUUteypiA?projectId=art-project
(Accessed on 29 April 16)

Grout. (2015) Aphrodite of Cnidus At: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/greece/hetairai/aphrodite.htm
(Accessed on 30 April 16)

Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

National Gallery of Art. (2016) Rubens, Peter Paul, Sir At: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/artist-info.1847.html
(Accessed on 30 April 16)

Royal Collection Trust. (2016) Aphrodite or ‘Crouching Venus’ At: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/near-you#/7/collection/69746/aphrodite-or-crouching-venus
(Accessed on 30 April 16)

 

Visit: A Gothic Church

“Your second visit should be to a Gothic or Victorian Gothic revival church or cathedral. ” Course Notes.

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark is a small cathedral on London’s Southbank. Its plan is a traditional cross shape with western entrances and other adjacent buildings connected via a modern glass covered walkway.

Cathedral Plan
Cathedral Plan – Copyright © 2016 Southwark Cathedral

The Catherdral, then just a church, dates back to the early 12th century but was rebuilt in the Early Gothic style after a ‘disastrous’ fire in 1212 damaged the church, priory, and hospital. The oldest complete part of the building, the Choir and Retrochoir, still dates from 1212 and is now the oldest gothic building in London. At the end of the Choir is the Great Screen built in 1520 and embellished with statues in 1905 (when it was officially named a Cathedral). The Nave has been replaced several times since then, the current one dates from 1897 designed by Sir Arthur Blomfield.

The NAVE:

This view is from standing at the back of the crossing (by the choir), showing the crossing and nave. We can see the effect of the light pooring in through all the many pointed windows in the nave and illuminating the vaulted ceiling. At the back you can see the western pointed arched stained glass windows and blind windows.
This view is from standing at the back of the crossing (by the choir), showing the crossing and nave. We can see the effect of the light pooring in through all the many pointed windows in the nave and illuminating the vaulted ceiling. At the back you can see the western pointed arched stained glass windows and blind windows.
Remains of the former medieval nave
Remains of the former medieval nave by the south west doorway

The stained glass windows along the North aisle of the Nave are Victorian, designed by Charles Eamer Kempe. These depict famous inhabitants of Southwark with literary connections including, poet Oliver Goldsmith, author Samuel Johnson, Chaplian Henry Sacheverell, Alexander Cruden (author of the King James Bible), author and preacher John Bunyan, poet John Gower and author Geoffrey Chaucer.

The stone roof collapsed in 1469 and was replaced by a wooden one, some of the carvings from that ceiling still survive. – in the bottom of this photo:

“At the West End is a window designed by Henry Holiday showing scenes of the Creation.”

Most of the clustered column capitals throughout were plain but a couple of columns at the back of the Nave looked to have a stiff-leaf capital.

Most of the capitals were quite plain but there was one column at the back of the Nave (by the Font) which looked to be a stiff-leaf capital.
Most of the capitals were quite plain but there was one column at the back of the Nave (by the Font) which looked to be a stiff-leaf capital.

The Aisles also have vaulted ceilings one level lower (supporting the gallery level gabled roof) and stained glass windows.

South Aisle - looking back at the south western entrance. The Aisles have their own vaulted ceilings, in the same style but one level lower (presumably to support the gallery level gabled roof only because from the outside there doesn’t look to be space to have a full gallery level). Stained glass windows line the walls.
South Aisle – looking back at the south western entrance. The Aisles have their own vaulted ceilings, in the same style but one level lower (presumably to support the gallery level gabled roof only because from the outside there doesn’t look to be space to have a full gallery level). Stained glass windows line the walls.

The CROSSING and TRANSEPTS:

Vaulted ceilings in the Transepts are two stories high, with large pointed arched windows (with stained glass and octofoil window in the north and plain glass but elaborate curvilinear tracery in the south).

Pointed Arches & Vaulted Ceiling - South Transept
Pointed Arches & Vaulted Ceiling – South Transept

The North and South Transepts, filled with various 17th and 18th century monuments, were built in 1283 and 1310 respectively, however the current south transept is the result of another fire related rebuild in the 1390s. This time they took the opportunity to increase the height of the tower and restored the chapel. The tracery in the South Transept looks to be of Decorated style (equivalent to flamboyant style in Europe).

Pointed Arches, Vaulted Ceiling & Stained Glass windows (including octofoil window) - North Transept (looking across the crossing from Sotuh Transept )
Pointed Arches, Vaulted Ceiling & Stained Glass windows (including octofoil window) – North Transept (looking across the crossing from Sotuh Transept )

Arches leading to the choir aisles differ slightly in shape on each side of the church, on the south a usual equilateral arch, on the north is a stilted arch, (one side has been flattened) to allow for the tower staircase. The stilted arch can be seen in this photo below, to the left of the pulpit.

In this view of the crossing and into the choir leading to the high altar, you can clearly see the stilted arch on the left hand side is not symmetrical. this is to allow for a staircase to the tower.
In this view of the crossing and into the choir leading to the high altar, you can clearly see the stilted arch on the left hand side is not symmetrical. this is to allow for a staircase to the tower.

“The Crossing under the central tower has four piers, flattened on the inner sides, dating from the 14th century. Suspended here is a splendid chandelier given by an innkeeper’s wife, in 1680.”

This is looking up at the ceiling of the crossing.
This is looking up at the ceiling of the crossing.

The CHOIR and Great Screen:

South choir aisle - This is a slightly older part of the build, in the choir aisle looking at the first chapel in the retrochoir. The ceiling here, although vaulted, doesn't have the same fancy green striped pattern as the victorian tiles in the aisle of the Nave. Also, it doesn't have the rose pattern where the ribs meet.
South choir aisle – This is a slightly older part of the build, in the choir aisle looking at the first chapel in the retrochoir. The ceiling here, although vaulted, doesn’t have the same fancy green striped pattern as the victorian tiles in the aisle of the Nave. Also, it doesn’t have the rose pattern where the ribs meet.

The Choir is Early English style. The Choir stalls are of ornately carved wood. There are also elaborate wooden screens, tombs and monuments across the five bays each side.

The Choir has elaborate wooden screens in the arches.
The Choir has elaborate wooden screens in the arches.

The piers are alternately circular and octagonal leading up to triple vaulting shafts for the ceiling. The Altarpiece has gold leaf geometric patterns and religious sculptures which melt into a wall of statues on the Great Screen.

This is looking at the alter and great screen in the santuary. You can see the light shining through the stained glass pointed arched windows here.
This is looking at the alter and great screen in the santuary. You can see the light shining through the stained glass pointed arched windows here.

“The Pulpit, Stalls, and Bishop’s throne, or ‘cathedra’, all date from the 19th and 20th centuries.”

The Great Screen was built in 1520 and embellished with (‘New Jerusalem’ style) statues in 1905 when it was officially named a Cathedral.

The great screen statues, added in 1905.
The great screen statues, added in 1905.

The RETRO-CHOIR

The oldest complete part of the building, the Choir and Retrochoir, still dates from 1212 making it the oldest gothic building in London. It has some random blind tracery at the back of the chapels

This is medieval blind tracery in the retrochoir. You can see there is much less light in here but I expect if I visited first thing in the morning the light would be streaming in through the eastern chapel stained glass windows behind me
This is medieval blind tracery in the retrochoir. You can see there is much less light in here but I expect if I visited first thing in the morning the light would be streaming in through the eastern chapel stained glass windows behind me
One of the chapels in the retrochoir, all four had stained glass pointed arches windows
One of the chapels in the retrochoir, all four had stained glass pointed arches windows

Lancelot’s Link

This is the ‘street’ outside the original church but its actually an interior now connecting the ancillary buildings together

This is a covered walkway which would have been outside the original church, called Lancelot's Link. This shows the exterior view of the North Aisle pointed arched (stained glass) windows
This is a covered walkway which would have been outside the original church, called Lancelot’s Link. This shows the exterior view of the North Aisle pointed arched (stained glass) windows

 

todo – revisit and photograph the roman wall behind

Exterior:

Outside, the retrochoir is seen as a symmetrical set of four chapels topped with gables and lancet windows. Behind them on the sanctuary tower above the main stained glass is a small rose window not visible from inside. The square central tower rises up, with four spiral pinnacles and a clock.

East Exterior view. Symmetrical set of chapels with Pointed arches. This is the oldest part of the building, the back of the Retro choir, you cannot tell from this exterior view but all of those windows have stained glass. Apologies for the condition of the photo, my camera-phone struggled with the dynamic range at this side of the building at this time of the day.
East Exterior view. Symmetrical set of chapels with Pointed arches. This is the oldest part of the building, the back of the Retro choir, you cannot tell from this exterior view but all of those windows have stained glass. Apologies for the condition of the photo, my camera-phone struggled with the dynamic range at this side of the building at this time of the day.

In the South churchyard, you can see medieval pointed arch windows with geometric tracery (retrochoir) and further along, that newer curvilinear tracery in South Transept windows and the sweep of the flying buttresses as they support the upper level of the building. Quoins edge the buttresses and cornerstones of the building in a different brick which makes an attractive pattern.

Exterior view of medieval Restrochoir from south east churchyard showing pointed arch windows with geometric tracery
Exterior view of medieval Restrochoir from south east churchyard showing pointed arch windows with geometric tracery
South Churchyard - Exterior view of the South Transept large pointed arched windows with curvilinear tracery
South Churchyard – Exterior view of the South Transept large pointed arched windows with curvilinear tracery
South Churchyard - Exterior view of the South West Entrance to the Nave. You can see Flying Butress supporting the higher level of windows and pointed arched windows.
South Churchyard – Exterior view of the South West Entrance to the Nave. You can see Flying Butress supporting the higher level of windows and pointed arched windows.
From outside the south churchyard to the west
From outside the south churchyard to the west

The facade at the west end of the cathedral shows equilateral arch stained glass windows with symmetrical blind tracery arches. Above, a strip of arabesque molding and two pointed religious medallion moldings. Higher up there are some more lancet windows with shutter blinds in them.

This exterior view is of the West end of the nave, showing equilateral arch windows (with stained glass, see later picture from inside) with, for symmetry some blind tracery arches too.
This exterior view is of the West end of the nave, showing equilateral arch windows (with stained glass, see later picture from inside) with, for symmetry some blind tracery arches too.
Detail of the last picture, of the exterior view of the West end of the nave. This shows two pointed medallion moldings with relgious scenes in them above the arched windows and a strip of arabesque molding along the top.
Detail of the last picture, of the exterior view of the West end of the nave. This shows two pointed medallion moldings with relgious scenes in them above the arched windows and a strip of arabesque molding along the top.

 

I have captioned the following images in detail to explain each feature of the photos: Click them for larger. There are some extra ones in this gallery that are not above.

References:

Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

Hopkins, O. (2012) Reading Architecture: A Visual Lexicon. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing

Hughes. (2009) Timeline Of Southwark Cathedral – PDF At: http://cathedral.southwark.anglican.org/downloads/visit/timeline.pdf
(Accessed on 20 April 16)

Southwark Cathedral . (2009) Various links from the main visit menu At: http://cathedral.southwark.anglican.org/visit/
(Accessed on 20 April 16)

Essential Reading: Medieval Christendom

p72 of course notes: Read Chapter 9 – Medieval Christendom.

Contents: Ottonian Art, Romanesque architecture, Gothic art & architecture.

1 Political, economic or social factors
  • ‘The complexities of early medieval civilisation, reflect its origin in the turbulent centuries following the death of Charlemagne in 814.’ p359 “France suffered more than Germany, many towns being devastated by the Vikings, Muslims and Magyars” p366
  • Ottonian: Otto I Crowned Holy Roman Emperor, 962 AD, ruled Germany & Northern Italy. Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (983-1002) had the cross of Lothar made from Gems and gold. The Roman, gem encrusted side faced the emperor and the crucifix embossed side faced the clergy during ceremonies p358.
  • 1066, Norman invasion of England – Bayeux Tapestry made 1073-83
  • Romanesque: 1095-99, First Crusade. Pisa growing rich from shipping Crusaders to the Holy Land, reflected in building beautiful buildings (Baptistery, Cathedral and leaning tower). p365
  • 1098 Cistercian Order founded. Much stricter, vows of poverty and denunciation of fanciful Romanesque sculpture and artworks in manuscripts (St Bernard).. p370
  • Romanesque: “The daily mass and the increased number of priests in monastic houses were among the more conspicuous results of the religious reform movement of the mid-tenth century”. P368
  • “Pilgrimages were a binding force in medieval life – bring together clergy and laity, rich and poor, different regions and languages – quickening the diffusion of secular, as well as religious culture”. P369 Romanesque cathedral Santiago de Compostela in Spain was a very popular pilgrimage symbolised by the cockle-shell badge of St James. Pilgrims wearing the cross symbolised they’d visited as far as Jerusalem.
  • The ‘cult of carts’ at Chartres, 1145, where the money ran out to finance the church building and over 1000 locals turned out with their carts to haul stone etc. The wealthy donated large one off items which they could attach their names too, such as specific stained glass windows. Their lives revolved around it once built. p387/8
  • In England a new sense of national identity was forming in the mid-13th century as English was first used in an official document. P391
  • St Francis of Assisi founded a new religious order, took a vow of poverty and got papal sanction to be wandering preachers, Fratri minori, lesser brethren (not priests) in 1211. St Clare was his first female disciple (who founded nuns order). S Francesco in Italy was a church with direct, non-allegorical frescos (attributed to Cimabue and perhaps Giotto) of Christianity by popular demand. Cistercians tried to suppress Franciscans (Grey Friars) because they were outspoken about the church and clergy owning wealth, land and estates. At the same time St Dominic of Spain started the Dominicans (Black Friars, who later manned the spanish inquisition). These two orders had a direct effect on literature and visual arts of the 13th century with the demand for plain talking and evocative religious stories which would have widespread appeal amongst the educated and uneducated alike. P394-5
  • Alterpieces came into being in the 13th century as a result of the change in the way mass was given with priests now having their backs to the congregation.
  • ‘The conventual life provided women with an alternative, often the only alternative to arranged, loveless marriages and frequent childbearing.’ p396
  • The black death (bubonic plague) swept across Europe in 1348 wiping out a third of the population. It was believed to be divine retribution. The feudal system collapsed through lack of manpower. However the artistic activity in Italy did not get impacted much and public building projects continued as though nothing had happened, for example in Venice the Doges’ Palace, a Venetian version of Gothic.  p411
2 Changes to status or training of artists
  • Romanesque: “At a time when it was usual to state that a building had been erected ‘by’ the patron who commissioned it – the emperor king, pope or bishop – the Pisans recorded the names of the individual architects in the inscriptions on the fabric: Busheto, Rainaldo, who began the cathedral facade, Diotisalvi, who designed the Baptistery.” p365
  • High Gothic: “Masons and master-masons or architects travelled widely and it is more than likely that many made drawings of features of buildings that caught their attention.” The only surviving architect’s sketchbook from this time has made different building plans, structures and decorations from a wide area in France and Hungary. P380
  • The Gothic architects names recorded but not much else about them. ‘Like other medieval architects each had doubtless risen from the ranks of masons after having served an apprenticeship in a quarry where the stone was cut, and having earned the title of ‘master’ by carrying out some technically difficult piece of work or ‘masterpiece’.’ The masons handed out traditions and secrets of craftsmanship & design in lodges or workshops.
  • “The influence of Giovanni Pisano was pervasive throughout the early 14th century in central italy.” p401 He and his father created a new more vivid visual language for representing religious ideas. However artists were still paid by the day as wage labourers by the cathedral authorities and were soon forgotten once the work was up in the churches. p402
3 Development of materials and processes
  • Romanesque: Use of stone tunnel vault ceilings on churches (instead of flat wooden ones). ‘Efforts were now being made to recover the ancient Roman art of large stone vault construction. Stone gave a nobler and more solemn effect and also provided better acoustics for the sonorous Gregorian chant”.’ p367
  • Bayeux Tapestry not a true tapestry but made from a long strip of embroidered linen. ‘Naturalistic effects attempted’ for example figures not sized and grouped by rank but all the same size with smaller boats in the background denoting distance. P369
  • Ceilings: Tunnel vaults gave way to Transverse vaults, to Groin vaults, to Rib vaults. P374 for details
  • “Tracery was a Gothic invention and its development towards ever greater dissolution of the wall – from ‘plate tracery’ to ‘bar tracery’ – can be followed stage by stage from Chartres to Reims and from Reims to Amiens and beyond”. P385
  • Mosaics were costly and slow to execute so painted murals were seen as a cheap alternative until the frescos of Scrovegni Chapel. True frescos are almost as durable as mosaics. Painted on fresh damp plaster with pigments that chemically unite as the plaster dries, it takes great skill to get it right as whole sections have to be done very quickly. Pigments which could not be absorbed into the plaster like this were mixed with adhesive and added as a secco to be applied on top of the dried plaster. p407
4 Styles and movements
  • “To present events of the Gospel story, and especially the Passion, so vividly that spectators might feel they were participants was to be one of the prime aims of western European artists throughout the Middle Ages, setting their imagery ever further apart from that of Byzantium” p357
  • Ottonian: “Naked figures owe little or nothing to the Classical tradition of heroic nudity.” p361 Ottonian art characterised by lack of ‘classical rationalism’, ‘surface patterns of flowing lines’ and ‘rich bright colours with passionate emotionalism.’ p362
  • Romanesque: ‘debased Roman’, ‘architecture which retained the column and round arch before the adoption of the Gothic pointed arch.’ p365 Style exemplified by qualities of  ‘Solid, dignified, inflexibly self-assured’. Styles origins in ‘Roman engineering and utilitarian ‘architecture’. P368
  • “The integration of Old Testament, New Testament and topical concerns is very characteristic of medieval art and thought” p372
  • Gothic architecture was born in St Denis, Paris. P375 Completed 1144 AD. Here ‘figurative stained glass windows were first given the importance they were to retain for some four centuries in northern Europe.
  • Gothic churches often had vine-leaf patterned carvings on the capitals of columns. ‘Every detail in these great buildings proclaimed the glory of God and the wonder of his creation’. P388
  • Carved relief sculptural figures were more natural, individual and breaking free of the buildings. Different from Romanesque in that they ‘desire to visualise the scene in human terms.’ The allegorical significance is less boldly stressed than before. P391
  • In England, the ‘decorated style’ (double -curving ogee arches, twists and turns of tracery) was used long before the ‘flamboyant style’ appeared in France. P391 Embroidery was english speciality and was prized all over Europe (some still survives in the V&A) p394
  • Italian painting (distinct from late Roman & byzantine) began with the frescos at S Francesco. Direct images and stories. Monks with grey woolen habits and ropes with three knots in them (poverty, chastity and obedience).
  • The first artists to enter the ‘canon’ emerged at this time and they remained influential in the early Renaissance period.  Famously Giotto Di Bondone was particularly noted owing mainly to the first histories of Italian art being written by fellow Florentines although no surviving work attributed to him is full documented.
  • International Gothic (p411), around 1400. “The intricate elaboration and enrichment of surface patterning, and the more detailed naturism with which animals, flowers and especially fashionable costumes were depicted, all combined with an accentuation of distinctly gothic elegance in the representation of figures, both human and divine to suggest sometimes an ascetic spirituality though always, in their well-mannered gestures and poise, with a courtly air”. Example Wilton Diptych, after 1395, National Gallery. p411
5 Inside and outside influences
  • King Harold Bluetooth conquered all Denmark & Norway, and “the Northern artistic traditions of intricate flat patterning were to contribute much to the creation of medieval art in Western Christendom.” p358
  • “S Marco in Venice is essentially Byzantine” built 1063-1094. P365
  • Figures & architectural backgrounds of italian painting in the 13th century are according to byzantine conventions, called the ‘Greek Style’. P398
6 Critics, thinkers and historians
  • Romanesque: In 1000 AD, monk Raoul Glaber wrote his famous quote on ‘white garment of churches’ p362
  • Dante Alighieri defined pilgrims to be ‘anyone outside his fatherland’ or ‘only the man who travels to or from the sanctuary of St James’ in La Vita Nuova (The New Life) c 1292. (p369)
  • Early theologians endowed stained glass windows with ‘Neoplatonic significance’ p381
  • St Thomas Aquinas was the greatest theologian if the Middle Ages, author of ‘summa theologica’ p388

 

Reflection:

I really did struggle through this chapter. The gothic churches were quite interesting with their beautiful interior spaces but I found the religious medieval life deathly dull. I’m so glad I was born in this century where there are more choices than loveless, arranged marriages or becoming a nun! I think you really have to make your way through this chapter to really really appreciate the good stuff to come e.g. the Renaissance

References:

Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing