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)
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.
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.
Beard, M. (2010) The Parthenon.Profile Books
D’Alleva. (2010) How to Write Art History. (2nd Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing
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.
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 stiltedarch, 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.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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
“Your second visit should be to a Gothic or Victorian Gothic revival church or cathedral. ” Course Notes.
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.
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 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.
The Aisles also have vaulted ceilings one level lower (supporting the gallery level gabled roof) and stained glass windows.
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).
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).
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 stiltedarch, (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.
“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.”
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 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.
“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.
This is the ‘street’ outside the original church but its actually an interior now connecting the ancillary buildings together
todo – revisit and photograph the roman wall behind
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Honour, H & Fleming, J. (2009) A World History of Art. (7th Ed), London, Laurence King Publishing
“Today we admire Romanesque and Gothic art for their formal qualities; the strength of their religious imagery is less evident except to devout Christians.” p73 of the course notes
To the uninformed (as I was when staring this chapter of the course) when you think of Gothic, you think of creepy gargoyles, towering spires and Edgar Allen Poe. After reading around the subject and watching the Art of the Western World videos, it now seems to me that Gothic architecture was more practically born out of a desire for extra height, terrifying beauty and magnificent, exaggerated grandeur in building design, specifically religious buildings, for the glory of God.
Medieval architects struggled to spread the weight of heavy stone walls so they developed some revolutionary new building techniques to spread the load of the upper sections to allow extra high ceilings, extra stories on buildings, bigger windows and generally a loftier airy feeling to the interior (although the WHA seems to suggest this isn’t the only reason and that aesthetic motives had a role to play (p374)). At the time, in the medieval era, this new style was called ‘the modern style’. It originated in France in 1144 when the Abbey of St Denis was built. The style spread to England where we emphasised length over height (unlike the French). Culturally a lot was happening between 1100 and 1300 AD. Europe was more stable and prosperous so consequently there was a massive population boom, people were getting married younger and having bigger families. In those two centuries the population increased 3 fold (up to 10 fold in the richest parts) and the church was not only the centre of spiritual life at this time but daily life of a medieval town resolved around it too. More people means bigger churches and more contributions with which to fund them. It was not all superstition and church scaremongering though, Oxford and Cambridge universities were founded during this period too. As the style gained in popularity, designs got more fantastical, ornate and ambitious, resulting in High Gothic.
Nearly three centuries later it was retrospectively renamed ‘Gothic’, in the Renaissance, as a derogatory term when it fell out of fashion. The term related back to Goths as barbarians who wreaked havoc across Europe centuries earlier, inferring that this architectural style had wreaked havoc across Europe too. However, with the cyclical nature of fashion, by Victorian times the style was back in vogue and resurfaced as ‘Gothic revival’, much of which still stands today.
So what are the main features of Gothic architecture?
Internally, the innovation of the Pointed Arch allowed for massive windows compared with previous designs. The force of the wall above is distributed differently (facilitated by the flying buttress outside – see below) so the windows were able to be very big and filled with beautiful stained glass creating a light, airy interior filled with beautiful colour. Abbot Suger, (from the Abbey of St Denis), equated the light shining through stained glass windows with “Divine light”. As an illiterate medieval peasant the bible stories must have come to life before their very eyes by the power of God as the sunlight hit these windows.
“The Gothic stained glass style played the role of storyteller, offering Christian and secular scenes through intricate design and inspiring color and light. These windows shared the teachings of faith with all worshippers, whether literate or not. The clergy would use the windows to teach the gospel, ultimately elevating the art form as a symbol of the divine.” Robert Jayson, http://faithandform.com/feature/color-and-light/
The same pointed arch design allowed the force of heavier ceilings and upper floors to be distributed across pillars creating a Vaulted ceiling. This catered for extra vertical height which was especially good for grand churches to reach into the heavens. Previously, vaults could only have been circular or rectangular but with the distribution of force within the vaulted ceiling vaults could now to be built in different shapes and sizes. Aesthetically, the combined arches in the ceiling added to the impression of height and elegance, these modern style churches were (and still are) truly magnificent places of worship, especially so for the congregation who most likely lived in medieval squalor.
Externally, one of the most famous of the defining characteristics is the gargoyle, if you know nothing else about Gothic architecture you’ll have heard of gargoyles. These little stone creatures serve a double purpose, firstly, a practical purpose of allowing rainwater to clear the walls when it pours down from the roof. Usually the water pours through the mouth of the creature. Secondly, these creatures are grotesque and creepily decorative, especially designed to scare the superstitious villagers into the safety of the church. Other
Another notable external characteristic of Gothic architecture is the Flying Buttress. These buttresses spread the weight of the taller designs, taking the weight off the walls and transferring force directly to the ground, allowing windows to be bigger and external walls to be taller. Often these supports were elaborately designed, seeming to dart and sweep around the building, giving an impression of movement and of grandeur missing from previous architectural styles.
“The human form as sanctified by the church released the creativities of the Gothic sculpture. The figures are standing on, but away from the walls of the cathedral.” Art of the Western World Ep 4 todo check quote.
“We can’t hope to travel back in time and respond to these works in the same way that medieval churchgoers did, although some Victorian architects made the attempt. By the middle of the nineteenth century, for example, AWN Pugin was arguing that Gothic was the only proper Christian architecture, a view strenuously reinforced by Ruskin. Hence Gothic revival churches can be found in all parts of the British Isles.
Take a look around your local area. If there are no original examples in your area, find buildings that show some of the characteristics of Romanesque or Gothic architecture – you may even find some that are a hybrid of the two. Don’t just look at churches – think about town halls, Masonic lodges, government buildings, etc. Take some photographs and see if you can find out when the building was made, by whom and why. What was its original function? Why might the architect have used the features you’ve identified?” p73 of the course notes
In Pisa, I didn’t take a photo of the Baptistery itself but the Cathedral behind, and of course the famous leaning tower (campanile).
For the Gothic part of this task, I thought I’d go to google, I know I know, wikipedia is frowned upon for being not schollarly enough but its an excellent springboard for the uninformed from which to do forth into the world with a camera and sketchpad. I’ve *’d the information below that I was unable to substatiate from anywhere other that wikipedia. I’ve already been to Southwick Catheral up the road to research my ‘visit’ (more on this later) so I thought I’d focus on the ‘not just churches’ aspect of this course task. What luck, there is a list of Gothic Revival architecture in England on there. Picking out those just in London…
Albert Memorial, London, 1872.
Architect: Sir George Gilbert Scott. *
Situated: Kensington Gardens *
Original Purpose: Memorial commisioned by Queen Vistoria for Prince Albert her husband. *
33-35 Eastcheap, City of London, 1868.
Architect: Robert Lewis Roumieu. *
Original Purpose: Vinegar warehouse for Hill & Evans now until recently an office but its haven works done on it – see images below
“In medieval times, Eastcheap was the main meat market in the City of London, with butchers’ stalls lining both sides of the street. It is also notable as the former location of Falstaff’s Boar’s Head Inn, featured in William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2.” WikiPedia
The Maughan Library, City of London, 1851–1858
Architect: Sir James Pennethorne *
Situated: Chancery Lane *
Original Purpose: Public Records Office, now the main research library of King’s College London. *
Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament), London, begun in 1840
Architect: Charles Barry and Augustus W. N. Pugin *