Art and Architecture in Medieval France: Medieval Architecture, Sculpture, Stained Glass, Manuscripts, the Art of the Church Treasuries

By Whitney S. Stoddard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 27
Flamboyant Architecture

CONTEMPOPARY with Early and High Renaissance architecture in Italy, the Flamboyant style of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries is the last stage in the evolution of French Gothic architecture. Early and High Gothic architecture was born in the ɩ + ̑le-de-France. The impact of High Gothic on structures in western Europe was soon replaced by that of the Parisian Rayonnant Gothic, the exportable Gothic. When exported, Rayonnant often became fused with local traditions, as the Cathedral of Albi and the Church of the Jacobins at Toulouse bear witness. The origin of Flamboyant architecture is still being debated. Possible influences from late English Gothic on the formation of Flamboyant Gothic do exist; yet it can be argued with equal validity that Flamboyant Gothic developed out of Rayonnant, independent of the evolving English Gothic.


CHURCH OF THE TRINITY AT VENDÔME

Parts of the Trinité at Vendôme -- the six western bays of the nave and the façade (figs. 364- 366) -- illustrate superbly this last flowering of the Middle Ages. The original abbey church at Vendôme was Romanesque, dedicated in 1040 (see bibliography: Plat). The transept and crossing piers of this church were incorporated in the present structure. Angevin vaults were added to the transept arms in the thirteenth century. By the end of the thirteenth century Vendôme was partially in ruins, and in 1306 the monks decided to rebuild the entire church. A new Rayonnant choir, with ambulatory and five radiating chapels, was accomplished between 1306 and 1318. This chevet has two deep chapels opening laterally off the hemicycle and an even deeper chapel on the main axis (plan, fig. 365). Between these three are two smaller chapels. The large side chapels, together with the Romanesque transept, make a double transept. The glazed triforium with quatrefoils in the lower zone and with pointed cusped arches above is joined by mullions to the clerestory. The piers of the choir are surmounted by twelve colonnettes: three in the aisles are crowned by capitals from which spring the transverse and diagonal ribs; six shafts (three on each side of the pier) have capitals supporting the archivolts of the main arcade; three (uninterrupted by capitals) rise from the pavement to the vaults. This duplication of elements and overlapping of parts, together with the glazing of the triforium and its intimate connection with the clerestory, is Rayonnant and is an elaboration of the style of such monuments as the nave of Saint-Denis and the choir of Saint-Urbain of Troyes (figs. 341, 347).

In the next major Rayonnant building campaign between 1343 and 1357 (see bibliography: Plat), the western Romanesque piers of the crossing were strengthened and the two easternmost bays of the nave were erected. Instead of the pier with twelve colonnettes as in the choir, the piers of these two bays have sixteen colonnettes. Three colonnettes rise to the springing of the nave vault, three relate to the ribs of the aisle, and five on each side of the piers terminate in the capitals from which the multiple moldings of the archivolts of the nave arcade rise. The triforium and clerestory repeat the design of the windows in the choir.

The progress of construction was interrupted by the Hundred Years War. The church was

-311-

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