Image Cenral tympanum Chartres.jpg
1145). These architectural statues are the earliest Gothic sculptures and were a revolution in style and the model for a generation of sculptors.]]
Image France Strasbourg Magi.jpg
from Strasbourg Cathedral
Image Gothic sculpture 15 century.jpg
was a style of Medieval art
that developed in Northern France out of Romanesque art
in 12th century AD, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture
It spread to all of Western Europe, never quite effacing more classical styles in Italy. In the late 14th century, the sophisticated court style of International Gothic
developed, which continued to evolve until the late 15th century. In many areas, especially Germany, Late Gothic art continued well into the 16th century, before being subsumed into Renaissance art
Primary media in the Gothic period included sculpture panel painting stained glass fresco
and illuminated manuscript
. The easily recognizable shifts in architecture from Romanesque to Gothic, and Gothic to Renaissance styles, are typically used to define the periods in art in all media, although in many ways figurative art developed at a different pace.
The earliest Gothic art was monumental sculpture
on the walls of Cathedrals and abbeys. Christian art was often typology (theology)
in nature (see Medieval allegory
, showing the stories of the New Testament and the Old Testament side by side. Saints lives were often depicted. Images of the Mary, the mother of Jesus
changed from the Byzantine iconic form to a more human and affectionate mother, cuddling her infant, swaying from her hip, and showing the refined manners of a well-born aristocratic courtly lady.
art came into its own during this period with the rise of cities, Medieval university
increase in trade, the establishment of a money-based economy and the creation of a bourgeois
class who could afford to patronize the arts and commission works resulting in a proliferation of paintings and illuminated manuscripts. Increased literacy and a growing body of Medieval literature
encouraged the representation of secular themes in art. With the growth of cities, trade guild
were formed and artists were often required to be members of a painters' guild
as a result, because of better record keeping, more artists are known to us by name in this period than any previous; some artists were even so bold as to sign their names.
Image Torun SS Johns Mary Magdalene.jpg Mary Magdalene
in St. John Cathedral in Toruń
Gothic art emerged in Île-de-France
France, in the early 12th century at the Abbey Church of St Denis
built by Abbot Suger
[Stokstad (2005), 516.]
The style rapidly spread beyond its origins in architecture to sculpture, both monumental sculpture
and personal in size, textile art, and painting, which took a variety of forms, including fresco stained glass
the illuminated manuscript
and panel painting
[Stokstad (2005), 544.] Monastic order
, especially the Cistercian
and the Carthusian
, were important builders who disseminated the style and developed distinctive variants of it across Europe. Cathedral architecture of Western Europe
of architecture remained important, even when, by the late 14th century, a coherent universal style known as International Gothic
had evolved, which continued until the late 15th century, and beyond in many areas.
Although there was far more secular Gothic art than is often thought today, as generally the survival rate of religious art has been better than for secular equivalents, a large proportion of the art produced in the period was religious, whether commissioned by the church or by the laity.
Gothic art was often Typology (theology)
in nature, reflecting a belief that the events of the Old Testament pre-figured those of the New, and that this was indeed their main significance. Old and New Testament scenes were shown side by side in works like the Speculum Humanae Salvationis
and the decoration of churches. The Gothic period coincided with a great resurgence in Marian devotion
in which the visual arts played a major part. Images of the Virgin Mary developed from the Byzantine hieratic types, through the Coronation of the Virgin
to more human and initimate types, and cycles of the [[Life of the Virgin]]
were very popular. Artists like Giotto Fra Angelico
and Pietro Lorenzetti
in Italy, and Early Netherlandish painting
brought realism and a more natural humanity to art. Western artists, and their patrons, became much more confident in innovative iconography
and much more originality is seen, although copied formulae were still used by most artists.
Iconography was affected by changes in theology, with depictions of the Assumption of Mary
gaining ground on the older Death of the Virgin
and in devotional practices such as the Devotio Moderna
which produced new treatments of Christ in subjects such as the Man of Sorrows Pensive Christ
which emphasized his human suffering and vulnerability, in a parallel movement to that in depictions of the Virgin. Even in Last Judgements
Christ was now usually shown exposing his chest to show the wounds of his Passion of Christ
Saints were shown more frequently, and altarpiece
showed saints relevant to the particular church or donor in attendance on a Crucifixion
or enthroned Virgin and Child
or occupying the central space themselves (this usually for works designed for side-chapels). Over the period many ancient iconographical features that originated in New Testament apocrypha
were gradually eliminated under clerical pressure, like the Nativity of Jesus in art Byzantine image
though others were too well-established, and considered harmless.
[Émile Mâle The Gothic Image, Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century, p 165-8, English trans of 3rd edn, 1913, Collins, London (and many other editions) is a classic work on French Gothic church art]
The word "Gothic (disambiguation)
for art was initially used as a synonym for "Barbaric
, and was therefore used pejoratively. Its critics saw this type of Medieval art as unrefined and too remote from the aesthetic proportions and shapes of Classical art
[http://books.google.com/books?iddBIfYTsM3rAC&pgPA275 History of ArchitectureFiske Kimball, George Harold Edgell p. 275]] Renaissance
authors believed that the Sack of Rome (410)
by the Goths
in 410 had triggered the demise of the Classical world and all the values they held dear. In the 15th century, various Italian architects and writers complained that the new barbarian styles filtering down from north of the Alps posed a similar threat to the classical revival promoted by the early Renaissance.
[E. S. de Beer, Gothic: Origin and Diffusion of the Term; The Idea of Style in Architecturein Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes Vol.11, 1948, pp. 143-62]
The "Gothic" qualifier for this art was first used in Raphael
s letter to Pope Leo X
c. 1518 and was subsequently popularised by the Italian artist and writer Giorgio Vasari
[http://books.google.com/books?idSMoC-XOUWewC&pgPA135 Vasari on techniquep.135]]
who used it as early as 1530, calling Gothic art a "monstrous and barbarous" "disorder".
[The art of the sublime: principles of Christian art and architectureby Roger Homan p. 70 http://books.google.com/books?idK-UZMVXHU_QC&pgPA70]]
Raphael claimed that the pointed arches of northern architecture were an echo of the primitive huts the Germanic forest dwellers formed by bending trees together - a myth which would resurface much later in a more positive sense in the writings of the German Romanticism
"Gothic art" was strongly criticized by French authors such as Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux Jean de La Bruyère Rousseau
before becoming a recognized form of art, and the wording becoming fixed.
[http://books.google.com/books?iddBIfYTsM3rAC&pgPA275 History of ArchitectureFiske Kimball, George Harold Edgell p.275]] Molière
would famously comment on Gothic:
In its beginning, Gothic art was initially called "French work" (Opus Francigenum
, thus attesting the priority of France in the creation of this style.
Image Simone Martini 072.jpg
File Venanson - Chapelle Sainte-Claire - Fresque -3.jpg
Painting in a style that can be called Gothic did not appear until about 1200, or nearly 50 years after the origins of Gothic architecture and sculpture. The transition from Romanesque to Gothic is very imprecise and not at all a clear break, and Gothic ornamental detailing is often introduced before much change is seen in the style of figures or compositions themselves. Then figures become more animated in pose and facial expression, tend to be smaller in relation to the background of scenes, and are arranged more freely in the pictorial space, where there is room. This transition occurs first in England and France around 1200, in Germany around 1220 and Italy around 1300. Painting during the Gothic period was practiced in four primary media: fresco
, panel painting
, manuscript illumination
and stained glass
Frescoes continued to be used as the main pictorial narrative craft on church walls in southern Europe as a continuation of early Christian and Romanesque traditions. An accident of survival Church frescos in Denmark
and Church frescos in Sweden
the largest groups of surviving church wall paintings in the Biblia pauperum
style, usually extending up to recently constructed cross vault
. In both Denmark and Sweden, they were almost all covered with limewash after the Reformation in Denmark
which has preserved them, but some have also remained untouched since their creation. Among the finest examples from Denmark are those of the Elmelunde Master
from the Danish island of Møn
who decorated the churches of Fanefjord Church Keldby Church
and Elmelunde Church
[http://www.natmus.dk/cons/walls/chrchpnt.htm Kirsten Trampedach: Introduction to Danish Wall Paintings - Conservation Ethics and Methods of Treatment. National Museum of Denmark]. Retrieved 6 September 2009.] Albertus Pictor
is arguably the most well-known fresco artist from the period working in Sweden. Examples of Swedish churches with well-preserved frescos include Tensta Church Gökhem Church
and Anga Church, Gotland
In northern Europe, stained glass
was an important and prestigious form of painting until the 15th century, when it became supplanted by panel painting
Gothic architecture greatly increased the amount of glass in large buildings, partly to allow for wide expanses of glass, as in rose window
. In the early part of the period mainly black paint and clear or brightly coloured glass was used, but in the early 14th century the use of compounds of silver, painted on glass which was then fired, allowed a number of variations of colour, centred on yellows, to be used with clear glass in a single piece. By the end of the period designs increasingly used large pieces of glass which were painted, with yellows as the dominant colours, and relatively few smaller pieces of glass in other colours.
Manuscripts and printmaking
Illuminated manuscripts represent the most complete record of Gothic painting, providing a record of styles in places where no monumental works have otherwise survived. The earliest full manuscripts with French Gothic illustrations date to the middle of the 13th century.
[Stokstad (2005), 540.]
Many such illuminated manuscripts were royal bibles, although psalter
also included illustrations; the Parisian Psalter of Saint Louis
dating from 1253 to 1270, features 78 full-page illuminations in tempera
paint and gold leaf.
[Stokstad (2005), 541.]
by Jean Pucelle
During the late 1200s, scribes began to create prayer books for the laity, often known as books of hours
due to their use at prescribed times of the day.
The William de Brailes
seems to have written for an unknown laywoman living in a North Hinksey
in about 1240. Nobility frequently purchased such texts, paying handsomely for decorative illustrations; among the most well-known creators of these is Jean Pucelle
whose Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux
was commissioned by King Charles IV of France
as a gift for his queen, Jeanne d'Évreux
[Stokstad (2005), 542.]
Elements of the French Gothic present in such works include the use of decorative page framing reminiscent of the architecture of the time with elongated and detailed figures.
The use of spatial indicators such as building elements and natural features such as trees and clouds also denote the French Gothic style of illumination.
From the middle of the 14th century, blockbook
with both text and images cut as woodcut seem to have been affordable by priest
in the Low Countries
where they were most popular. By the end of the century, printed books with illustrations, still mostly on religious subjects, were rapidly becoming accessible to the prosperous middle class, as were engraving
of fairly high-quality by printmaker
like Israhel van Meckenem
and Master E. S.
In the 15th century, the introduction of cheap old master print
mostly in woodcut
made it possible even for peasants to have devotional images at home. These images, tiny at the bottom of the market, often crudely coloured, were sold in thousands but are now extremely rare, most having been pasted to walls.
Altarpiece and panel painting
Painting with oil on canvas did not become popular until the 15th and 16th centuries and was a hallmark of Renaissance art
In Northern Europe the important and innovative school of Early Netherlandish painting
is in an essentially Gothic style, but can also be regarded as part of the Northern Renaissance
as there was a long delay before the Italian revival of interest in classicism
had a great impact in the north. Painters like Robert Campin
and Jan van Eyck
made use of the technique of oil painting
to create minutely detailed works, correct in perspective, where apparent realism was combined with richly complex symbolism arising precisely from the realistic detail they could now include, even in small works. In Early Netherlandish painting, from the richest cities of Northern Europe, a new minute realism in oil painting
was combined with subtle and complex theological allusions, expressed precisely through the highly detailed settings of religious scenes. The Mérode Altarpiece
(1420s) of Robert Campin
and the Annunciation (van Eyck, Washington)
or Madonna of Chancellor Rolin
(both 1430s, by Jan van Eyck
[Lane, Barbara G,The Altar and the Altarpiece, Sacramental Themes in Early Netherlandish Painting Harper & Row, 1984, ISBN 0-06-430133-8 analyses all these works in detail. See also the references in the articles on the works.]
For the wealthy, small panel painting
, even polyptych
in oil painting
were becoming increasingly popular, often showing donor portrait
alongside, though often much smaller than, the Virgin or saints depicted. These were usually displayed in the home.
File Vierge a l'Enfant debout.jpg
The Gothic period is essentially defined by Gothic architecture
and does not entirely fit with the development of style in sculpture in either its start or finish. The facades of large churches, especially around doors, continued to have large tympanums, but also rows of sculpted figures spreading around them. The statues on the Western (Royal) Portal at Chartres Cathedral
(c. 1145) show an elegant but exaggerated columnar elongation, but those on the south transept
portal, from 1215–20, show a more naturalistic style and increasing detachment from the wall behind, and some awareness of the classical tradition. These trends were continued in the west portal at Rheims Cathedral
of a few years later, where the figures are almost in the round, as became usual as Gothic spread across Europe.
[Honour and Fleming, 297–300; Henderson, 55, 82-84] Bamberg Cathedral
has perhaps the largest assemblage of 13th century sculpture, culminating in 1240 with the Bamberg Rider
the first life-size equestrian statue
in Western art since the 6th century.
In Italy Nicola Pisano
(1258–78) and his son Giovanni Pisano
developed a style that is often called Proto-Renaissance
with unmistakable influence from Roman sarcophagi and sophisticated and crowded compositions, including a sympathetic handling of nudity, in relief panels on their Pulpit (Siena Cathedral)
the Fontana Maggiore
and Giovannis Pulpit by Giovanni Pisano in Sant'Andrea, Pistoia
[Olson, 11–24; Honour and Fleming, 304; Henderson, 41]
Another revival of classical style is seen in the International Gothic
work of Claus Sluter
and his followers in Burgundy (historical region)
Late Gothic sculpture continued in the North, with a fashion for very large wooden sculpted altarpieces with increasingly virtuoso carving and large numbers agitated expressive figures; most surviving examples are in Germany, after much iconoclasm elsewhere. Tilman Riemenschneider Veit Stoss
and others continued the style well into the 16th century, gradually absorbing Italian Renaissance influences.
Life-size tomb effigies in stone or alabaster
became popular for the wealthy, and grand multi-level tombs evolved, with the Scaliger Tombs
so large they had to be moved outside the church. By the 15th century there was an industry exporting Nottingham alabaster
altar reliefs in groups of panels over much of Europe for economical parishes who could not afford stone retables.
[http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/bbchistory/object_text07.htm V amp;A Museum feature on the Nottingham alabaster Swansea Altarpiece]
File:Chartres cathedral 023 martyrs S TTaylor.JPG|South portal of Chartres Cathedral (c. 1215-20)
File:Reims6.jpg|West portal at Rheims Cathedral Annunciation group
File:Pisa.Baptistery.pulpit02.jpg|Nicola Pisano Nativityand [[Adoration of the Magi]]from the pulpit of the Pisa Baptistery
Image:Dijon mosesbrunnen4.jpg|Claus Sluter David (biblical king) and a prophet from the Well of Moses
File:Holy Thorn Reliquary base.jpg|Base of the Holy Thorn Reliquary French (Paris), 1390s, a Resurrection of the Deadin gold, enamel and gems
Image:Ulm-Muenster-SchmerzensMann-061104.jpg|Man of Sorrows on the main portal of Ulm Münster by Hans Multscher 1429
File:English - Resurrection - Walters 27308.jpg|Section of a panelled altarpiece with [[Resurrection of Christ]] English, 1450–90, alabaster with remains of colour
File:Rothenburg ob der Tauber 2011 St Jakob 002.JPG|Detail of the Last Supper from Tilman Riemenschneider s Altar of the Holy Blood 1501–05, Rothenburg ob der Tauber Bavaria
File French - Casket with Scenes of Romances - Walters 71264 - Top.jpg
with the Siege of the Castle of Love
at left, and jousting
Small carvings, for a mainly lay and often female market, became a considerable industry in Paris and some other centres. Types of ivories included small devotional polyptych
, Virgin and Child from the Sainte-Chapelle
mirror-cases, combs, and Casket with Scenes of Romances (Walters 71264)
used as engagement presents.
The very wealthy collected extravagantly elaborate jewelled and enamelled metalwork, both secular and religious, like the Duc de Berry
s Holy Thorn Reliquary
until they ran short of money, when they were melted down again for cash.
[Cherry, 25-48; Henderson, 134-141]
Gothic sculptures independent of architectural ornament were primarily created as devotional objects for the home or intended as donations for local churches.,
[Stokstad (2005), 537.]
although small relief
bone and wood cover both religious and secular subjects, and were for church and domestic use. Such sculptures were the work of urban artisans, and the most typical subject for three dimensional small staues is the Virgin Mary alone or with child.
[Stokstad (2005), 539.]
Paris was the main centre of ivory workshops, and exported to most of northern Europe, though Italy also had a considerable production. An exemplar of these independent sculptures is among the collections of the Abbey Church of St Denis; the silver-gilt Virgin and Child
dates to 1339 and features Mary enveloped in a flowing cloak holding an infantile Christ figure.
Both the simplicity of the cloak and the youth of the child presage other sculptures found in northern Europe dating to the 1300s and early 1400s.
Such sculpture shows an evolution from an earlier stiff and elongated style, still partly Romanesque, into a spatial and naturalistic feel in the late 12th and early 13th century.
Other French Gothic sculptural subjects included figures and scenes from popular literature of the time.
Imagery from the poetry of the troubadour
was particularly popular among artisans of mirror-cases and small boxes presumably for use by women.
The Casket with Scenes of Romances (Walters 71264)
of 1330-50 is an unusually large example with space for a number of scenes from different literary sources.
Souvenirs of pilgrimages to shrines, such as clay or lead pilgrim badge
medals and ampullae
stamped with images were also popular and cheap. Their secular equivalent, the livery badge
were signs of feudal and political loyalty or alliance that came to be regarded as a social menace in England under bastard feudalism
The cheaper forms were sometimes given away free, as with the 13,000 badges ordered in 1483 by King Richard III of England
cloth with his emblem of a white boar
for the investiture of his son Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales
as Prince of Wales,
[Cherry (2003), 204]
a huge number given the population at the time. The Dunstable Swan Jewel
modelled fully in the round in enamelled gold, is a far more exclusive version, that would have been given to someone very close or important to the donor.
* List of Gothic artists
* Renaissance of the 12th century
(also known as Gothic script
* The Ten Virgins
* Danse Macabre
* History of Painting
* Western painting
* Church frescos in Denmark
* Church frescos in Sweden
* Template Timeline of Italian artists to 1800
* Calkins, Robert G.; Monuments of Medieval Art
Dutton, 1979, ISBN 0525475613
* Cherry, John. The Holy Thorn Reliquary
2010, British Museum Press (British Museum objects in focus), ISBN 0-7141-2820-1
*Cherry, John, in Marks, Richard and Williamson, Paul, eds. Gothic: Art for England 1400-1547
2003, V&A Publications, London, ISBN 1-85177-401-7
* Henderson, George. Gothic
1967, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-020806-2
* Hugh Honour
and John Fleming, A World History of Art
1st edn. 1982 (many later editions), Macmillan, London, page refs to 1984 Macmillan 1st edn. paperback. ISBN 0333371852
* Olson, Roberta J.M., Italian Renaissance Sculpture
1992, Thames & Hudson (World of Art), ISBN 0500202531
* Robinson, James, Masterpieces of Medieval Art
2008, British Museum Press, ISBN 978-0-7141-2815-3
*James Snyder (art historian) Northern Renaissance Art
1985, Harry N. Abrams, ISBN 0136235964
* http://www.gothic-architecture.com Gothic Art and Architecture]
* http://www.artcyclopedia.com/history/gothic.html Gothic art], from ArtCyclopedia.com
* http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9037489/Gothic-art Gothic art], from [[Encyclopædia Britannica]]
* http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761562615/Gothic_Art_and_Architecture.html Gothic art] (http://www.webcitation.org/5kwq98B7L Archived] 2009-10-31), from Microsoft Encarta
* http://www.bartleby.com/65/go/Gothicar.html Gothic art], from The Columbia Encyclopedia
Sixth Edition. 2001.
* http://www.museen-sh.de/ml/digicult.php?digiID601.46&s2 Gothic art], Museumsportal Schleswig-Holstein
* http://www.all-art.org/history194_gothic_contents.html Gothic art], from "A World History of Art" and http://www.all-art.org/gothic_era/01.html].
Category Gothic art
Category Medieval art
Category Roman Catholic Church art by period