Gothic Art and Scholasticm


Gothic art is mainly concerned with architecture, paintings, music and sculpture it flourished in France and England between 1150 and 1400. The person thrilled, as the instigator of gothic style was Abbot Suger 1081-1151, his Benedictine abbey place of worship near Paris discloses the first clear Gothic features. This style quickly spread to the Church of Notre Dame de Paris, to the rest of Paris (Kavaler, 42). France close ties with England lead to the appearance of the new style in the Canterbury Cathedral and later throughout the island. During the 13th and 14th centuries, gothic style was at its peak and gothic architecture dominated cathedral and church building in England, France, Italy, and Germany. Architecture was the main significant and original art during the Gothic era.

The fundamental structural characteristics of Gothic architecture got its existence from the medieval mason’s interest to solve the challenge of supporting heavy stonework ceilings mausoleums over wide spans. The challenge was that the heavy masonry of the ancient arched barrel mausoleum and the groin tomb exerted great pressure that actually pushed the walls upon which the tomb rested outward making them collapse. However, the medieval masons made numerous innovations that helped them tackle this problem; for instance, they developed ribbed tombs that helped reduce the weight of the ceiling tombs (Moore, 28). According to the innovations the Gothic masons could build taller and larger buildings that their Romanesque ancestors. In addition, their building had ground plans that are more complex; they could build tall, and thin walled buildings. Most of the important art mainly architecture was produced in the central passageway of Europe, which was by then a wealthy region that could pay the artists as well as the building materials     

Early Gothic

This was the first phase that lasted from 1120 – 1200 and it what saw the Gothic style inception. Elements were combined in a coherent style where the urban dwellers had enough wealth to build churches that characterize the Gothic style. The earliest existing Gothic structure was the abbey of St. Denis in Paris. Through buildings with equally exact vaulting and chain of windows along the boundary it soon begun to be built with cathedrals in Paris taking the lead. By 1165, it had become trendy to treat the internal columns and ribs as if they comprised of more slim parallel members (Pechey, 30). With time, masons developed a series of four separate horizontal stories in cathedrals. The columns and curves used to hold these unlike elevations added to the severe and recurring geometry of the inside. Window tracery also slowly evolved, alongside the use of stained glass in the windows.

The characteristic French early Gothic church ended at its eastern end in a crescent projection referred to as an apse. The western end was much more remarkable; being a broad front articulated by several windows and sharp arches, having enormous entrances, and topped by two massive towers. The extensive sides of the cathedral's peripherals presented a inexplicable and twisted array of piers and soaring buttresses. The fundamental form of Gothic architecture ultimately spread all the way through Europe to the Low Countries. Early English Gothic cathedrals varied in a number of respects from their French counterparts. They had wider, heavier walls that were not much altered from Romanesque size; emphasized, continual moldings on the edges of interior arches; a careful use of tall, slim, sharp lancet windows; and nave berths consisting of a innermost column of light-colored stone enclosed by a number of slimmer close columns made of black marble (Moore, 30).

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High Gothic

During the 1250 to 1300, era European art was for the first time dominated by the art and structural design of France. During this period, most of the tall building built had a disastrous history that included collapsing which contributed greatly to most of the ancient architects shifting from size to decorations. In the history of this growth, one structure deserves particular mention, the Saint Chapelle, Paris. This was Louis IX’s stronghold chapel, build to house an impressive collection of leftovers. This palace set the pace for others that followed for example Riom. As time went by glass became lighter, amount of carved decorations dwindled, and the paintings decreased. Most of the countries were not left behind as they also developed their own versions of the famous Rayonnnat style. Germans for example built the largest Rayonnant structure that is the Cologne cathedral. In London, also a similar structure is the Westminster Abbey.

Architects in England retained the heavy surface decoration for a long time, their building were more inventive than those of the French were. Later in 13th century, the English developed their structures that resembled the Rayonnant referred to as Perpendicular. The next phase of Gothic architecture started with part of the style known as Rayonnant on the Continent and as the adorned Gothic style in England. This style was differentiated by the use of increasingly complicated geometrical adornment to the structural forms that had been customary during the previous century. Until about 1250, Gothic architects concerted on the pleasant allocation of masses of stonework and, predominantly in France, on the practical troubles of achieving enormous height; after that time, they became further worried with the construction of rich visual effects in the course of decoration.

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Italian Gothic

In its advancement of a Gothic style, Italy stood inquisitively apart from the rest of Europe. Developments of the Italian gothic trend took place in the late thirteenth century. Italian architects did not imitate architectural styles from the northern Europe; this was majorly attributed to geologic and geographical factors. Additionally, Italian architectural approach was determinedly exaggerated by the fact that brick and not stone was mainly the widespread building material and marble the main common ornamental material. The Italians, nevertheless, were not ignorant of what, by French principles, a great cathedral should to look like. The dominant feature of the Italian cathedrals in the 13th century was the size of their arcades, which gave the interiors spacious feeling (Pechey, 33). 

Yet in feature, the Italian cathedrals vary from the French prototype in an extremely individual way. To the level, that Rayonnant structural design is predominantly concerned with the exploitation of two-dimensional models, the Italian masons created their own side of the style. In these terms, the frontage of Orvieto cathedral, for instance, is Rayonnant; the front of Siena cathedral was designed as a Rayonnant facade, and the Campanile, or self-supporting bell rise, of Florence cathedral is Rayonnant to the degree that its full effect depends on mineral patterning. Lastly, it is perhaps genuine to see Brunelleschi's 15th-century structural design as a continuation of this trend a kind of Florentine counterpart, possibly, to English Perpendicular (Jung, 328). However, before the 15th century, Italian architectural expansion by no means appears to have the reason or purpose of northern building.

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Gardens that normally encircle significant building are frequently treated as outside extensions of the buildings themselves, the flowers or trees are planted or arranged to resemble rooms and they must be harmonious with the building they adjoin. In the late 17th century and early 18th century in Europe, particularly Italy, England, and France neoclassical principles dominated backyard designs as well as structural design. Firm two-sided proportion reigned supreme, both royal and private residences had formal gardens of unsurpassed elegance, grace, and beauty. The high cost of maintaining those prescribed gardens contributed to their slow substitution throughout the 18th century by other gardens that were more informal in design and represented clear natural scenery. Mid 18th century saw the spread of landscape gardens that were more prevalent in the countryside that represented a shift in genuine beauty. Formal gardens for example those of Versaille put across the view that man’s association to nature is fundamentally tyrannical (Jung, 326).   

From shrubs fashioned by the art of topiary to firmly clipped hedges and geometrically shaped plantings, these formal gardens imply that the determination and art of man must be forced on Nature in order to create attractive surroundings. Man must control nature with complete force in harmony with rules practical with mathematical accuracy. In this view of the connection of Man and nature, Man is at the center, surrounded by nature, which has been influenced to call attention to Man's resolute will and power. Shift in garden beauty in England has political insinuation. The designers associated the new freer gardens with the freedom of the political arena. Gothic art and architecture of the early ages was associated with traditional English liberty. Designers created modern imitations of gothic monuments, which marked the gothic revival period in architecture. 

Late Gothic

The Perpendicular style is a stage of late Gothic distinctive to England. Its quality feature is the fan tomb, which appears to have begun as an exciting expansion of the Rayonnant idea in the walkway of Gloucester church where tracery sections were introduced into the vault. An additional major tombstone is the nave of Canterbury church, the request of tracery sections tending to become thicker. St. George's Chapel is an attractive introduction to the innateness of Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey (Bruce, 365). Some of the paramount belatedly Gothic achievements are bell towers, such as the crossing tower of Canterbury church. Flamboyant is the name of late gothic style in France. Although the architectural opportunities did not increase, the development of tracery is very much noticed. Decorative elements were very much different, but were added during the 16 the century aiding development of a new beginning style. 

In addition, a gothic sculpture was linked to the architecture that was used to decorate the outsides of churches. This style was very prevalent in the late and high gothic periods and the sculptures were placed on the frontage of cathedrals.  The stylish and to some extent simulated prettiness of this method was widely distributed all through Europe in carving, painting, and script elucidation throughout the 14th century and was referred to as the International Gothic approach. A differing tendency at this time was that of a strengthened pragmatism, as exhibited in French vault sculptures and in the dynamic and remarkable works of the leading late Gothic sculptor, Sluter. Gothic carving developed into the more strictly superior and classicistic Renaissance method in Italy throughout the 14th and early 15th centuries but continued until later on in northern Europe.

Gothic painting later followed the same stylistic development as did sculpture, from rigid, uncomplicated, hieratic forms to more hassle-free and natural ones. Its level grew big only in the 14th century, when it started to be used in beautifying the retable. These paintings show an importance on smooth, curving lines, small detail, and advanced beautification, and gold was often used to the section as background color (Quema, 90). Work became more complicated as time proceeded, and painters started to look for means of representing spatial intensity in their pictures, a search that finally fronted to the mastery of perception in the early ages of the Italian Renaissance.


Gothic structural design and Scholasticism presents a convincing link between the architectural approaches of Cathedrals and the category form of the academic school of thought. Focusing on the area around Paris throughout the years amid 1130 and 1270 where and at what time Scholasticism was the dominating presumption of learning and Gothic architecture started to take a monopoly over the aged Romanesque style. Later at the end of Gothic churches, building semicircular cathedrals was a more effective vaulting method with the use of a chief stone per cathedral. Panofsky argues that gothic architecture reached a point where it stopped to be architectural. Gothic architecture greatly influenced the way structures are built even to this date in most parts of the world. It can also be hailed greatly for its contribution to art.  

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